Last night I made the most amazing dinner.  And I have my sister to thank for it.  So thanks Julie!

I’d been wanting to use up our butternut squash from our crop share and my sister passed along this butternut squash risotto recipe with the note that it one of her favorites (which, coming from my foodie sister, is a good thing)

After my previous pathetic attempt at peeling a butternut squash, I went out and got a decent peeler, and that made a world of difference!

That was easy!

The prepping took quite a long time, and the cooking took about an hour, but one bite in, and I knew it was worth every second I spent in the kitchen!  It’s not the simplest recipe, and definitely not the healthiest (now that I made it according to the recipe, I’ll work on adapting it to be healthier), but it’s a great “special occasion” or “trying to impress” recipe!


Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts (from Cooks Illustrated)

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2- inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 cups chicken vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions, chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (about 2 tsp), pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

NOTE: You will only need one skillet for this recipe.  You just keep reusing it as you go.

  1. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet (about 5 minutes).  Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet (med-high heat).  Add 3 1/2 cups squash and cook without stirring until golden brown (4-5 minutes).  Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned (about 5 more minutes).  Transfer to bowl and set aside.
  3. Return skillet to medium heat and add reserved fibers and seeds (and any leftover squash).  Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned (about 4 minutes).  Transfer to a large saucepan and add broth and water.  Cover saucepan and and bring to a simmer over high heat.  Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer.
  4. Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet and add baby spinach.  Cook, covered, over medium heat until spinach begins to wilt (about 2 minutes).  Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until completely wilted.  Set aside.
  5. Melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened (4-5 minutes).  Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around the edges (about 3 minutes).  Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed (4-5 minutes).
  6. While rice is cooking in the wine, strain hot broth through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Press solids to get out as much liquid as possible.  Return strained broth to saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  7. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups broth, the wilted spinach, and half the reserved squash to the rice.  Simmer, stirring every 3-4 minutes until liquid is absorbed and bottom of skillet is almost dry (about 12 minutes).
  8. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed.  Repeat 2 or 3 more times until rice is al dente.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter, parmesan, sage, and nutmeg.  Gently fold in remaining cooked squash.
  10. Top individual servings with toasted pine nuts.
  11. Serve immediately and enjoy!