Fall flavors emerge deliciously in this Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto. A heavenly combination of sweet butternut squash, caramelized ham, shallots, garlic, rosemary and sage swirling through creamy risotto.
Keys to Perfect Risotto
These ingredients team up for a delicious dish you can serve as an entrée, or as an appetizer. I found roasting the butternut squash separately before mixing into the risotto allowed more control of when it was fork tender, not mushy. I’ve tried other recipes that called for cooking the squash in the same pan as the risotto. The squash was either: 1) still hard when the rice was done, or 2) barely recognizable. No fun. Roast first; save the guessing for your favorite game show.
Try to keep the squash cubes around ¾-inch in size. The seeded end can be tricky to chop so don’t sweat it if there are some outliers. Simply coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, some fresh nutmeg, pop in the oven twenty minutes, and done!
As the squash gets happy roasting, you can start the risotto. I like using a large, high-rimmed sauté pan for risottos to have lots of room to stir. The ham browns first, then the shallots and garlic take their turn before adding the rice. Once the rice goes in, you’re pretty much tethered to the stove. Great risotto requires patience. Broth is added gradually so those little grains can plump at their own pace. Another key to successful risotto is warm broth. Even at room temperature it will take forever to cook the rice. Instead of dinner, you’ll be eating risotto for breakfast. Keep the pot of broth just below a simmer on another burner. Let each addition of liquid get mostly absorbed before adding more. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and happy stirring.
Once the rice is tender and creamy, the squash and ham go back in the pan. You’re almost there!
Finish off this beauty with fresh parmesan, sage, a little more nutmeg, then pile on a plate. Your tastebuds have waited long enough. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for another winning risotto, try our Shrimp Risotto with Spinach and Corn. Cheers!!
- 2 ½ lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
- 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 8 ounces boneless ham steak, ¼-inch dice
- 4 medium shallots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley, torn for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. In rimmed baking dish, combine squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until squash is fork tender but not mushy. Tent with foil to keep warm.
As squash bakes, bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan, then turn to low heat to keep warm. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in 5-quart, high-rimmed saucepan or heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add ham and sauté until browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer ham to small bowl, cover with foil to keep warm. Add last tablespoon of oil to pan. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add rice and continually stir an additional minute. Stir in wine. Scrape any brownings off bottom of pan, and cook 2-3 minutes until wine is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add ¾ cup of warm broth and simmer until most of the broth is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and continue to add broth, ¾ cup at a time, allowing almost all the broth to be absorbed after each addition, stirring often, about 25 minutes in total. Rice will become tender and creamy.
Lower heat to medium-low, stir squash, ham and sage into rice. Cook 2-3 minutes to combine flavors. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Fresh herbs are typically added at the end of cooking; however, fresh rosemary is added earlier on in the risotto because of its stronger, earthy flavor. Fresh sage is milder, making it appropriate to add toward the end.