Today, our month of meatless meals continues with this Spanish-inspired butternut squash risotto. Bonus: It’s also gluten free! Phoebe from Feed Me Phoebe shows us how it’s done…

Butternut Squash Risotto
by Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe

Risotto gets a bad rap for being time intensive and difficult. But what actually makes risotto a great beginner dish is the stirring. For those who have more experience, this can be a meditative thing. But for those with insecurity at the stove, the fact that you can’t stir too much is very helpful. Ever met that guy who can’t help prodding the burgers every 30 seconds on the grill? Well, turn him loose on some risotto. It’s one dish that can really benefit from a helicopter cook.

This easy vegetarian risotto is Spanish-inspired and uses one of my favorite spices: smoked paprika. It’s a great compliment to the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and nutty aged Manchego. Use a nice dry white wine for cooking (perhaps something from Spain!) and enjoy the remaining bottle alongside your meal.

Recipe: Smoky Butternut Squash Risotto with Manchego Cheese
Makes 4 servings
What you’ll need:

One 2-pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 quart vegetable stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large leek (pale green and white parts), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives or parsley
½ cup finely grated aged Manchego cheese

Preheat the oven to 425F. On a parchment lined baking sheet, toss together the squash, 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon of salt. Arrange in an even layer and roast in the oven until tender and caramelized, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the risotto: in a medium saucepan, warm the stock over low heat.

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the remaining oil. Sauté the onions and leeks over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rice, and remaining paprika. Toast the rice until the edges are opaque and the center pearly white, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt to the pan, scraping up any brown bits, and cook until reduced by half.

Add 1 cup of the warm broth to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium low and gently cook until nearly absorbed. Repeat this process, adding stock by ½ cup, until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the roasted butternut squash, plus half the fresh herbs and cheese. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining herbs and cheese.

Thank you so much, Phoebe!

P.S. Three-ingredient pastas, and a secret to the best spaghetti sauce.

(Photos and recipe by Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for her help with this series)