Monday, February 7, 2011

Saffron Butternut Squash Risotto

After a night of watching Mario Batali whip up butternut squash risotto on Iron Chef America, my husband and I perused our 8,000 cookbooks and discovered this version by Ina Garten.  With bacon (pancetta), wine, butternut squash, and saffron, we knew we couldn't go wrong.  This is the first risotto recipe we ever made, and it's the one that got our family hooked.  It's definitely fancy enough to serve for company, but only if you want to share.  And I don't know if you will after tasting this dish.  It's pure heaven. 

Try it.  It's easier than you'd think!

Saffron Butternut Squash Risotto


  • 2 lbs. butternut squash (use pre-cut to speed things up)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • 6 cups chicken stock

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced

  • ½ cup minced shallots

  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads

  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. If you bought a whole butternut squash, peel it, remove the seeds, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You’ll want about 6 cups. 

  3. Spread the butternut squash cubes on a sheet pan lined with foil for easy cleanup and toss with 2 T olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once about half way through, until very tender.  Set aside when done.

  4. Heat the stock in a covered saucepan on low heat and keep at a simmer.

  5. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the butter.  When melted add the pancetta and shallots.   Cook until the shallots are translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes.

  6. Add the rice and stir until coated with butter.  

  7. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.  

  8. Add 2 ladles of stock, the saffron, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper to the rice.  Stir and simmer until stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.  

  9. Continue adding stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the liquid is absorbed, then add more stock. Continue adding stock until the rice is cooked al dente, about 30 minutes total.

  10. Remove from heat and add the roasted butternut squash cubes and parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.

Serves 4

*Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten.

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