This butternut squash risotto combines roasted squash with chicken and arugula for a smooth, warming and tasty fall/winter meal (and a great way to use leftovers!)
Risotto has become one of the things I’ll make if I am not quite sure what to have for dinner as chances are, I have the core ingredients in the house. It’s a dish that’s good both for an evening meal and leftovers can go in the lunchbox or be made into arancini.
It can be adapted in so many ways depending on what you have, the weather and what flavors you want to bring out. It is something my son has enjoyed from about as soon as he was able to eat it. I think it helps that it has cheese on top, but it’s also easy to eat.
As the weather gets colder, one of my favorite ways is a butternut squash risotto with leftover roast chicken (or turkey, from Thanksgiving/Christmas), and either arugula/rocket or spinach. It’s a lovely smooth, warming dish, and is a great way to sneak some good vegetables into a yummy meal.
Tips for making butternut squash risotto
On the face of it, it can seem like it takes a while to cook, and it’s true it does take a little time, but a lot doesn’t take much effort and there are ways to make it a little quicker.
- Making ahead – you can either roast the squash at the same time as you cook the risotto rice, or you can roast it in advance.
- Two meals from one – as an example, you could roast some squash when you have the oven on for something else the day before, like a roast chicken which you can then use leftovers of in this too.
- If you are using leftover cooked squash, it’s around one to one and a half cups of cooked squash that you would use to make the quantity in the recipe below.
The amount of arugula/rocket or spinach is not all that much in the end risotto so feel free to add more. It’s more to add a little color than take over but it would also be good with more in there. Similarly, you could miss out the chicken if you want a vegetarian version.
As I said, that’s one of the fun things with risotto, you can play around to get the flavor, colors and textures you like.
This butternut squash risotto with chicken and arugula version to me, though, is one I look forward to being able to make at this time of year. And I am pretty sure we will come back to it a few times in the coming months.
Looking for other ways to use some leftover chicken or turkey? Try these:
- pastilla (Moroccan phyllo savory pie)
- Thai red curry (using leftovers)
- ‘Australian pie’ (leftover turkey pie with raisins and bechemel)
Butternut squash risotto with chicken and arugula
- 14 oz butternut squash 400g, peeled weight, diced small
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp butter 15g
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups arborio risotto rice 330g
- 1/2 cup white wine 120ml
- 3 cups stock 720ml, suggest chicken or vegetable
- 1 oz arugula 30g, rocket or young spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan grated
- 3 1/2 oz cooked chicken 100g
- Roast the butternut squash cubes, tossed in approx 1 tbsp olive oil, at 400F for 30-40 minutes until tender and just starting to brown. This can either be done ahead or alongside the rest of the meal - just allow the squash to cook around 20mins before starting the rest.
- Heat remaining 1/2 tbsp oil and butter over medium heat. Soften onion 2-3 mins, add garlic, cook another 2-3 mins until onion starting to brown.
- Add rice and cook briefly to ensure well coated in oil/butter mixture.
- Add wine, stir and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Add stock a bit at a time (around 1/2 to 1 cup at a time), adding more as the last is absorbed. Stir now and again as it cooks - I generally only stir as liquid is absorbed initially but then a little more towards the end when it tends to stick to the bottom more. In all it takes around 20mins.
- Meanwhile mash around 1/2 cup of the cooked squash.
- Once all the stock is absorbed, check rice is cooked (if not then add a little more stock) then add arugula and stir in so it wilts.
- Add parmesan and mashed squash and stir well.
- Add chicken and remaining squash, stir and serve.
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