Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Today, Kristin from The Seasonal Family shares a delicious, Thanksgiving-worthy risotto. It features roasted butternut squash, and flavorful, mineral rich chicken stock.ย  Kristin uses white rice in this recipe (which I feel is hardly a problem considering all of the nutritious ingredients used to make it), but she does choose to soak it. She feels this makes it more digestible. White rice has scant amounts of phytic acid in it, but this soaking process will probably not have the phytase it needs to reduce it (read more about phytic acid and phytase here). However, I bet it could make it more digestible. You can certainly skip the soaking process, if desired. Enjoy!

Fall lends itself to vibrant foods and holidays that celebrate the bounty of the harvest. Honestly though, I really do not need an excuse to invite people over and share a delicious wholesome meal.

I am blessed that I married Canadian and get to have indulge in two Thanksgivings every year, but the one at the end of November will always be “real” Thanksgiving for me. As we enter into the month of November, the wheels in my head start to turn thinking about what to serve.

Over the last few years my family and I have changed our eating habits tremendously, switching over from processed foods to a diet full of healthy grassfed animal feds, soaked and fermented grains and thus our dinner menu at Thanksgiving has changed as well, looking a little less traditional.

This year, instead of the typical stuffing that I was practically raised on, I have decided to add a bit of pizzazz with roasted butternut squash risotto.

Creamy, cheesy and full of flavor this gluten free dish will not leave anyone wondering where the stuffing is.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Soaking Instructions: To begin, soak 2 cups of arborio rice in 3 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Cover and sit for one hour to seven hours. After soaking, drain, rinse and set aside while preparing the rest of the recipe.

    1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
    2 bay leaves
    drizzle of oil – coconut or grapeseed are my choices
    fresh herbs
    1 teaspoon sea salt pinch of pepper
    9 cups of chicken broth
    1 large onion chopped
    3-4 cloves of garlic minced
    2 large chunks of butter fresh herbs
    sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
    1 cup grated cheddar or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and chopped butternut squash. To peel it easily, I like to cut a small chunk from the bottom of the squash and the top. Then stand it on one end, and use a sharp knife to cut off the skin. Then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and then cut into halves again. Then chop the pieces coarsely.

Place chunks of butternut squash on baking tray with oil, salt, pepper, bay leaves and fresh herbs. Roast for 10 minutes, flip the squash then roast for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in stockpot and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Do not bring to a boil. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, once hot, add butter and melt. Toss in onions, garlic and fresh herbs, saute until onions and garlic are translucent and soft.

Stir in soaked rice and cook, constantly stirring for 2-3 minutes. Begin adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, again stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. The heat from the stock will help to cook the rice, and the constant stirring releases its starchiness which gives risotto it’s creamy texture. Continue to add the broth, stirring in the meantime, until rice is tender and creamy, about 15 – 20 minutes. Taste every so often to check for doneness.

Soaked rice tends to need less cooking time then non-soaked rice. Add pinch of salt and pepper, then pour in grated cheese. Stir until combined. At this point you can add the roasted butternut squash as is or puree it with a few tablespoons of remaining chicken broth and puree. Blender well with risotto.

Now you are ready to feast! What I love about risotto is how it taste just as good the next day, so if you are busy in the kitchen, go ahead and make it the night before, then reheat it in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 5-10 minutes. This will add a little extra crunch to the top layer but the bottom will still be smooth and creamy.

A few scrumptious alternatives to this recipe could be:

  • Adding in some cooked bacon pieces.
  • Substituting 1/2 cup of the broth for a dry white wine, add wine in before broth. Heat 1 cup of apple cider and replace 1 cup of chicken broth with apple cider.
  • Use 1/2 cup of grated cheese and half a cup of goat cheese for a velvety flavor.
  • Everyone at the dinner table will surely be talking about how amazing the risotto taste and think that you are a genius in the kitchen! Do not be intimidated to make risotto, it is very straightforward and I find that the more you make it the less you rely on a recipe but truly become a master risotto maker!

    Has your menu for Thanksgiving changed over the years? Do you enjoy the more traditional foods or do you like to mix things up a bit?

Bon Appรฉtit!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Jennifer says

    THANK YOU for such good instructions! I’ve never made risotto and it’s something I know my family would like.

    I’m thankful for your website!
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Jennifer

    • says

      Jennifer, I sure hope the risotto turns out well for you! If you have any questions, please do ask. With risotto, I find the more you make it the easier and easier it becomes. Eventually, you won’t even need a recipe, you’ll just throw this and that in and it will be great.

  2. Theresa says

    Sounds so delicious … BUT … I am wondering if this recipe would still be as good without any cheese. I am allergic to cow’s milk and recently am finding that even goat’s milk is an issue. How about buffalo mozzarella? Thank you … hope you have a good alternative to the cheese.

    • says

      Theresa, you *could* be okay with an aged parmesan (24 months is a long time for bacteria to munch on lactose, but I do find there’s a parmesan limit for me too) but otherwise I’d say leave it out. The risotto might not be as rich, but the creaminess – as Kristin says – comes from the rice.
      For those who CAN eat dairy, AND have leftovers, can you imagine this (you might have to top up the spices) mixed with chopped turkey and shredded mozzarella, rolled into balls and shallow fried!? Oh. my. heavens. (Let’s call them Kristincini ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      • says

        Lauren, that’s a fabulous idea, LOVE the leftover idea rolled into balls and shallow fried. Oh I know what I am going to do if I have any leftovers now!

        Theresa, you can make it dairy free for sure, I’ve done it before and the risotto does still taste very good. I too went off cow dairy and feel that I am now building up an intolerance to goat dairy and often make risotto sans cheese. Pureeing the butternut squash and adding it in (you could use pumpkin puree too) will help with the creaminess. Let me know how it comes out! Buffalo mozzarella sounds pretty delicious too!

  3. says

    White rice is my secret favorite. We had it tonight, and because we also had steamed greens, beets, elk meat, and fermented apple chutney, it didn’t feel so scandalous.
    Our thanksgiving tradition has changed since my husband has begun hunting and we’ve been growing and storing our own food; it’s a true local feast.
    Thanks for the recipe, I love winter squash practically any way.

  4. Anna says

    I make risotto often, and sometimes use other grains since arborio is so expensive (and white rice-y). I recently started making butternut squash risotto with millet instead of rice, and the kids really like it!

      • Georgia says

        I had the same question and was skimming the comments hoping someone had already asked it and gotten an answer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

  5. says

    Made a huge pot of chicken broth and had to try this. It was SO DELICIOUS!!! The risotto was super onion-y and my kids wouldn’t eat it, but the flavor was amazing for us adults. I’m already looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!!!!

  6. Kelly says

    This was so good! I made it yesterday for Thanksgiving and it was everyone’s favorite dish. I have a feeling I will eat way too much of it today…

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