butternut squash & leek risotto

Butternut squash risotto / Love & Lemons

A few years ago, Jack and I spent Thanksgiving alone, just the two of us. We had always traveled throughout the holiday season, exhaustingly flying around to visit both families. But this one particular year we decided enough was enough and we made the bold move to stay home.

To buck tradition even further, there was no turkey, no trimmings… instead we made this butternut squash risotto and Jack’s signature seared scallops.

“Thanksgiving Risotto” might not have caught on as an annual tradition, but it was delicious and made for a memorable night. That and the half bottle of wine that I spilled on the wall. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I knocked over a just-opened bottle of red wine… then I somehow caught it quick enough for it not to spill on the floor but to leave a big spatter mark on the wall.

You know a fun night happened when you wake up the next morning to find red wine all over your kitchen wall…

Butternut squash risotto / Love & Lemons

makes 2 large main course servings


butternut squash:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup butternut squash cubes (about 1 cm)
salt, pepper
1/4 cup veggie broth

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup organic arborio rice
3 cups veggie broth (plus another cup or so, if needed)
1-2 tablespoons earth balance butter
1/4 cup finely chopped sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (omit if vegan)
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper


butternut squash:
First, start your butternut squash. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash cubes, salt and pepper. Cook until they start to brown, gently flipping, to get color on the other sides… about 5 minutes. Before they start to brown too much, add the veggie broth and stir. Reduce heat to low. Heat until they are tender and cooked through. Approx 20 minutes, depending on the heat of your stove. If the broth cooks down before they are done, add some more (or some water) to keep them from burning to the bottom of the pan.

When the squash are at least half done, start your risotto. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and half the leeks, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent (but not browning), about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the rice, mix it together with the onions so the dry rice toasts a little bit. (about 1 minute). Add the wine, scrape up anything that’s sticking to the pan, and let the wine simmer down for another minute.

Add broth 1 ladle at a time, stirring continuously. Each time the liquid cooks down, add another ladle full. Before you add the last ladle of broth, add the butternut squash, the remainder of the leeks, rosemary, sage, a pat of butter, and grated cheese. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. Top with pine nuts and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

alternatively, you can add your butternut squash cubes to your risotto pan right after the onions… as you cook your risotto they will melt apart into the risotto rather than remain cube shaped. Both ways are equally delicious.

If you make this, let us see! Tag your photo with #loveandlemons on Instagram.


  1. I’ve been craving a Love and Lemons meal lately. I need to make this soon!

  2. McKenna Ryan from lynnandlou.blogspot.com on said:

    This looks amazing!! I love butternut squash, but I have never actually cooked with leeks. I might have to try this recipe out so that I can say that I have cooked with them. Thanks for the foodie inspiration! xx. Mckenna Lou

  3. Kathryn from londonbakes.com on said:

    This is pretty much all of my favourite things in one bowl.

  4. Katy on said:

    This looks delicious!! Just wondering, how many people does it serve?

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      Hi Katy, it makes 2 pretty big main course servings. (it could serve 4 if it was a side dish)

  5. Red wine on the wall, floor, or cabinets definitely is the sign of a good night! I like the pine nuts in this, the perfect little crunch!

  6. Kasey from turntablekitchen.com on said:

    I may love my turkey and cranberry sauce, but this risotto sure sounds good!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      thanks Kasey!

  7. What a beautiful dish, so perfect for a Thanksgiving-for-two! I love the addition of the pine nuts & hard cheese. I imagine this dish tasting like the epitome of Autumn– I can’t wait to make it myself.

  8. THIS is what I’ve always wanted for Thanksgiving. Really.

  9. Laura from thespicedlife.com on said:

    Obviously I am catching up on favorite blogs tonight. :) Another winner, looks wonderful!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      thanks, glad you’re liking the recipes! :)

  10. Linda on said:

    This dish is delicious! My husband keeps nibbling from the pot and asking me repeatedly, “What’s in this?” I’m serving it with salmon. Can’t wait for dinner.

  11. Courtney Jones from thefigtree.blogspot.com on said:

    Gorgeous! I think this will be one of my side dishes for the upcoming vegetarian christmas dinner I’m hosting for me family. Looks delicious!

  12. Jackie F on said:

    Thanks so much for this beautiful recipe! I made it last night and it was so good. Just wondered where the garlic should go in. I got to the end of the recipe and realized it was still sitting on my counter, never saw it in the instructions. I’m thinking maybe with the onion before the risotto is started? Would love your thoughts, then I can add that note and file this one away as a “keeper”!
    thanks again!!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      I’m going to go fix that in my instructions, oops! Yes, I put it in the pot with the onion (I let the onion get started for a few minutes and then toss it in, because I find that garlic burns on the bottom of the pan easily).

  13. I’ve always been afraid of making risotto but this just looked so good and motivated me to give it a shot. Mine didn’t look quite as pretty as yours but it tasted amazing! I shared this recipe in a recent meal plan on my blog, thank you!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      I’m glad you braved it and liked it! (and it really is so hard to make risotto look pretty :)

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  16. Sebastian on said:

    Just made it! Great!
    thanks a lot!

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  18. Leanora Finkenbiner on said:

    Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to its higher amylopectin starch content;[1] thus, it has a starchy taste but blends well with other flavours. It is used to make risotto, although Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano are sometimes used to prepare the dish. Arborio rice is also used for rice pudding.`

    Remember to pay a visit to our very own blog page

  19. Sue from CandlesOffMain.com on said:

    I love your website!!! What a great resource!

  20. Gan from veganbostonblog.blogspot.com on said:

    I cannot even tell you how much I ADORE this dish! It’s like little Thanksgiving feast – so herbal and delicious with the squash. Can’t wait to whip this up again someday soon.

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      thanks! Glad you liked it so much… a one pan thanksgiving meal :)

  21. The Dame Intl from the-dame.com on said:

    I adapted this tonight and used quinoa instead of risotto rice, I also added a handful of ground almonds (in place of pine nuts). Yummy!

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  24. Beth from problem-freephilosophy.blogspot.com on said:

    Just made this for dinner and me oh my was it delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  25. Risotto is my ultimate comfort food – and this recipe looks like it will hit the spot! Definitely trying it. Thanks!

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  27. Kara on said:

    This looks amazing! I have always been intimidated by risotto but I think I’ll give it a try!

    Is the “signature seared scallop” recipe on this blog somewhere?!

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  29. John on said:

    Just finished this meal. Very good! Went well with the pumpkin beer I brewed this fall. Wife and son enjoyed it. I think it is the first rice dish our 2yr old has liked. 2 for 2 on the recipes I’ve tried from your site!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      Hi John – so glad you all liked it, thanks for sharing!!

  30. Annie on said:

    Beautiful blog! We made this dish last night, and while it didn’t look as pretty as the pictures, it was tasty! A little heavy on the sage for us though, next time I’ll reduce it by 1/2 and increase the butternut squash by at least twice.

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