Butternut Squash & Leek Risotto

Our favorite fall date-night dinner. This herb, squash, and leek-filled risotto is a great healthy option for the holidays. Gluten free, vegan option.

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 quickly 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

5.0 from 2 reviews

Butternut Squash & Leek Risotto

Serves: 2 as a main
For the squash:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup butternut squash cubes (about 1 cm)
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • ¼ cup veggie broth
For the risotto:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup organic arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups veggie broth, more as needed
  • 1-2 tablespoons earth balance butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sage
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • ¼ – ½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (omit if vegan)
  • A few pinches of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  1. First, start your butternut squash: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butternut squash cubes and a few pinches of 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. Cook until they are tender and cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. If the broth cooks down before they are done, add some more (or some water) to keep them from burning.
  2. When the squash is at least half done, start your risotto: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, 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 and 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.
  3. Add the 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 cooked butternut squash, the remainder of the leeks, a pat of butter, sage, rosemary, and grated cheese. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. Top with pine nuts, if desired, 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.




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  1. Beth from problem-freephilosophy.blogspot.com

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

  2. 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!

  3. Gan from veganbostonblog.blogspot.com

    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

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

  4. Sue from CandlesOffMain.com

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

  5. Leanora Finkenbiner

    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

  6. Sebastian

    Just made it! Great!
    thanks a lot!

  7. 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

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

  8. Jackie F

    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

      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).

  9. 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!

  10. Linda

    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. Laura from thespicedlife.com

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

    • jeanine

      thanks, glad you’re liking the recipes! 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. Kasey from turntablekitchen.com

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

  14. 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!

  15. Katy

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

    • jeanine

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

  16. Kathryn from londonbakes.com

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

  17. 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

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.