A delicious fall comfort dish, this Butternut Squash Risotto with Italian Roasted Shrimp can be prepped ahead and uses the magic of the oven for perfectly cooked risotto and shrimp without all the fuss! A fabulous meal for entertaining or to enjoy near a cozy fire!
This Butternut Squash Risotto with Italian Roasted Shrimp is one of those dishes that I could make day after day with no complaints from my husband, Scott. Every time I serve it, he takes one bite and says, "This is SO good!". I agree, it's a delicious comfort dinner that hits the spot on a cool, crisp evening. The fact that it can be prepped ahead and doesn't require a long stint at the stovetop (as in most risotto recipes) is a big bonus for busy cooks and those who enjoy easy entertaining!
What is risotto?
If you haven't tasted risotto you're missing out on something delicious! Classically made with arborio rice, and combined with butter, onions, broth, white wine and parmesan cheese, risotto is and Italian dish that's slowly cooked until it's meltingly creamy and tender. Taste of Home describes it as, " a creamy Italian dish that tastes a lot like the rice version of mac and cheese".
Traditionally risotto is a somewhat fussy dish to make with constant attention required at the stovetop. Most recipes call for sautéing the rice then slowly adding hot broth, a scoop at a time while stirring continuously. This goes on until all the broth is absorbed. This takes between 20 and 30 minutes of hands-on time. It's not impossible... but something I'm not often in the mood to mess around with.
This Butternut Squash Risotto is a different story. The hands-on time is closer to 10 minutes with the oven doing most of the legwork. I discovered this method of making risotto over on the Epicurious website. The recipe was for a mushroom risotto but I read the great reviews and decided to give the risotto technique a whirl with my own recipe.
It worked like a dream and I discovered you can do a lot of the prep work ahead leaving minimal work before serving. This makes it perfect for entertaining or a day when your time for meal preparation is divided. This is how it works:
- For the prep, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil and set aside. Combine the shrimp with a drizzle of olive oil, spices, salt and pepper and refrigerate.
- Chop an onion and 2 cups of butternut squash (or purchase the squash pre-cut at the market).
- Combine a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter in a large skillet or braiser pan and heat until the butter is melted and sizzling.
- Add the onion, squash and arborio rice. Sauté for a few minutes then add minced garlic and stir to combine.
- You can stop here and take a break for up to an hour or go ahead and finish things up right away.
- Next comes a half cup of dry white wine. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until absorbed.
- Add the broth (reserving a portion for later), bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan tightly and pop the whole thing in the oven for 16 minutes.
- While the risotto is in the oven, pull the shrimp from the refrigerator and transfer it to a baking pan.
- When the risotto is finished, pop the shrimp in the oven while you finish things up.
- Another splash of broth, butter, a scoop of Parmesan and a few more minutes on the stovetop are the final touches.
- Turn the risotto out onto a pretty platter and top it with the tender shrimp. A beautiful site to behold!
A delicious vegetarian dinner
Although this dish is pictured in this post with shrimp and is titled Butternut Squash Risotto with Italian Roasted Shrimp, it also makes a fabulous meal sans shrimp. Scoop the delicious risotto into pretty bowls, top with chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves and serve it with a loaf of warm crusty bread for a dinner that family and friends will rave about.
Don't let the season pass without trying this Butternut Squash Risotto recipe! Once you make it, it may just become one of your most requested autumn recipes. It's definitely on my frequent flyer list!
Cafe Tips for making this Butternut Squash Risotto with Italian Roasted Shrimp
- This recipe calls for arborio rice. What is arborio rice? It's a starchy Italian short-grain rice that is named for the city of Arborio, located in the Piedmont region in Italy. When it's cooked, the oval-shaped grains are firm, creamy and slightly chewy compared to other varieties of less starchy rice. Arborio rice is perfect for risotto.
- Be sure to use low-sodium chicken broth for this recipe. Regular chicken broth will make the dish to salty as the broth reduces.
- You can either cut your own squash for this recipe or use the pre-cut stuff available at many grocery stores. You want a small, ¼-inch dice so you may need to but the purchased squash into smaller pieces.
- This recipe calls for butternut squash but any type of winter squash can be used. We love kabocha squash but there also are many other delicious varieties.
- We don't live near the ocean so I almost always use good frozen shrimp. Good quality shrimp are flash frozen, right on the boat or the dock so they're usually fresher that "fresh" shrimp. Unless you live near the water and can purchase shrimp shortly after they are harvested, frozen may be a better choice.
- This recipe calls for fresh rosemary and sage. If you can only use one, I'd opt for the rosemary.
- Sometimes I serve this Butternut Squash Risotto with crispy brown butter sage. To make crispy brown butter sage, melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a medium skillet. Let the butter sizzle and start to turn golden brown then add a handful of large sage leaves (they will shrink quite a bit). Spread the sage to a single layer then fry until crisp and golden-green. Serve as a garnish on top of this risotto.
Thought for the day:
May the God of HOPE
fill you with all joy and peace
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in HOPE.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium cloves fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1¼ pound large shrimp peeled, deveined and tail removed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cups diced butternut squash about ¼-inch dice - you can use any kind of squash here. We love kabocha
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth more to finish
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth maybe more
- 2 tablespoons butter cut in pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh rosemary roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage optional
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil and and set aside.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, kosher salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Stir to combine then add the shrimp. Toss gently with your hands or a silicone spatula to coat the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine the butter and olive oil in a large, oven proof skillet or braiser pan over medium heat. Let the butter melt, then swirl the pan a bit and cook until the butter is hot and bubbly. Add the onion, diced squash and the rice. Stir well to combine then cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are nice and soft. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. At this point you can stop and finish up to an hour later.
Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
Add 2½ cups of chicken broth and the bay leaves. Return the mixture to a steady simmer.
Cover the pan tightly and place it in the oven. Set a timer for 16 minutes.
Check the rice at 16 minutes. There should only be a little broth left that hasn’t been absorbed. You may need an extra minute or two in the oven if there’s still a good bit of broth that’s not been absorbed. If so, return the pan to the oven for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and return to the stovetop over medium heat. Add the ½ cup of chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly, adding more broth as needed until rice is tender but still has some bite and sauce is creamy. This will take 2-3 minutes. Don’t hesitate to add more broth if the mixture seems dry.
Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan, butter, sage and rosemary. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Add a little more chicken broth, if needed. The risotto should be thick but pourable. Transfer risotto to a platter or to individual bowls. Top with shrimp and more chopped rosemary and sage, if desired. ENJOY!
While the risotto is baking, spray the prepared pan with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the shrimp out onto the pan and spread to a single file. When the risotto is finished baking, place the pan with the shrimp in the oven. Check after 8 minutes. You want the shrimp to be opaque and starting to curl. You may need a few more minutes, depending on the size and type of shrimp you’re using. When the shrimp are finished, remove from the oven.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.