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Butternut Risotto

Butternut Risotto

As you may have guessed by now, I love pumpkins. (If I had my own car, I’d have an “I brake for pumpkins” bumper sticker, for sure.) So it’s probably no surprise that butternut squash gets me batting my eyelashes pretty furiously as well. Butternut and pumpkin perform slightly differently, but these favored sisters of the cucurbita family have a lot in common–butternut’s a little sweeter, but both are sweet and earthy, with a melting yet toothy texture. And they’re both so versatile, slipping from sweet dessert to savory entree as deftly as a stage actress maneuvers a quick costume change. As much as I love butternut squash in sweet applications (butternut cheesecake, gulp), this recipe for risotto takes the cake, so to speak–there’s just something about savory butternut and sage. You can roast the squash first for more complex flavor–but I like this method because the butternut flavor infuses the rice so nicely. (Easier, too.) Although there is little added fat, the result is rich and creamy.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (optional: save seeds to roast for garnish–see note)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth, heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and a bit for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, and a bit for garnish

1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt olive oil over medium heat. Add squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1/2 cup hot broth. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed and then add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more–this should take about 35 to 40 minutes total.

4. Stir in Parmesan, sage, and salt to season. Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and sage.

NOTE: you can roast the seeds by following these directions for slow-roasted pumpkin seeds. Use for an additional garnish–yum.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
8:34AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

This looks great! Thank you for the recipe!

1:30AM PDT on Apr 14, 2013


5:09AM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

yum thanks.

7:20AM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

mouth already watering - thanks!

5:05AM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

Thanks for the recipe.

11:37AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

I was thinking that rosemary and/or thyme would go nicely as well - but great idea with the cumin Borys! I never would have thought of that one!

5:40AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Fabulous recipe. Thanks for sharing.

5:47AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

try to add a cumin! and if you like you can add a curry powder.

2:21AM PDT on Jun 1, 2010

I'm growing a variety of squash this year, thanls for this. it will come in handy! Sounds so delicious!

7:56PM PDT on May 29, 2010

Sounds incredible. Thanks, Melissa.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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