Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto

I have been wanting to make risotto for a while. For some reason, every time I plan to make it, it seems I can’t find arborio rice, we decide to go out to eat or something else comes up. This week I was determined to make it. I had seen Giada’s butternut squash and vanilla risotto on Sugar & Spice a couple of months ago and thought it looked so delicious.

Well, I was super excited to find that it was also in my new cookbook,

Giada’s Kitchen. So I finally made risotto last night. I didn’t know what I was missing! It was so creamy and comforting. I paired it with parmesan tilapia that I will post later. This risotto would also be great as the main dish. I love the texture that the butternut squash adds and the vanilla adds a nice depth of flavor. I will definitely be making this again and again. I think I may have added one 1/2 cup of broth too many at the very end, so next time I will stop before I add that last one but it was still wonderful. If you haven’t tried risotto, this is a great recipe to start with.

Celeste from Sugar and Spice used chicken stock and vanilla extract in her risotto, so I followed suit since that is what I had on hand. I also subbed the butter with light margarine just to save a few calories. You can find the original recipe here on foodnetwork.com, and mine with those few minor changes is below.

Butternut Squash & Vanilla Risotto
Source: Giada De Laurentiis, Giada’s Kitchen

4 cups chicken broth, plus 1/2 cup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups peeled & cubed (1-inch wide) butternut squash
2 tablespoons light margarine or unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Directions :
In a medium saucepan, heat four cups of the chicken broth over medium heat. Add vanilla extract. Once broth is simmering, add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to low.

Meanwhile, in a large, saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter or margarine over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.

Add the additional 1/2 cup of chicken broth and simmer until the broth has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.

Turn off the heat on the risotto, as well as the broth if there is any remaining in the pan. Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.

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  1. I am glad you tried this recipe. I have been wanting to make it! Now I will since it has your stamp of approval!

  2. Looks great, would never think to add vanilla.

  3. USA Kiwi (aka Kylee) says:

    This looks awesome.
    I make a butternut squash, basil and parmesan one – but I’m definitely up for a new variety.


  4. Kristen616 says:

    This looks really great! I’m anxious to try it out!!

  5. This looks yummy!

  6. It almost sounds like a dessert risotto! The addition of vanilla is something I wouldn’t have thought of.

  7. I need to try and use vanilla in more savory dishes. This looks wonderful!

  8. bensbaby116 says:

    What an interesting combo of flavors! Looks great.

  9. I love risotto. This recipe looks great. I love all the colors, too!

  10. I love risotto!! I went to a place in london that had nothing but risotto on the menu!! That was their specialty!! IT WAS AMAZING!!! Ever since I went, I have grown a new found love for the stuff! I think I am going to make a mushroom risotto this weekend! This one sounds delicious too, I will have to keep it bookmarked!!!

  11. hi! just wanted to say I love your blog and I love recipes by Giada, so this was a given. Also, I linked to your post on my Three Things Thursday post. Hope you don't mind but I had to share this recipe.