Genesis Healthy Heart Kitchen: Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash


  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded and diced into ¾” cubes
  •  2 Tbs. of olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 cups of low-salt/no salt chicken stock
  • ¾ of a stick of butter (6 Tbs.)
  • 2 ozs. Pancetta, diced (optional)
  • ½ cup minced shallot (two large)
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio (short-grain) rice (10 ozs.)
  • ½ dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan



In a bowl toss the diced butternut squash with the olive, 1 tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of pepper until it’s well coated.  Let the squash rest while you pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet.  (A layer of parchment paper makes the clean-up easier.)  Roast the squash cubes for 30 minutes, tossing once at about 15 mins.  Remove from over when very tender and set aside.  While waiting for the squash to roast, add the saffron to the chicken stock and warm over low heat in a small pot.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the pancetta (if using) and the shallot over medium-low heat.  Cook until the shallot is translucent, but not brown…about 10 mins.  Add the rice and mix until the grains are well coated.  Add the wine and cook for two mins, allowing the alcohol in the wine to burn off.

Now add a ladle or two of the chicken stock to the rice mixture and stir just about constantly with a wooden spoon until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice.  Then add another ladle or two of chicken stock and stir constantly until the liquid is again absorbed by the rice.  Repeat the process until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.  This process should take about 30 mins. and is not recommended for those with little patience.

Once off the heat, toss with the butternut squash and parmesan cheese and serve with a garnish of rough cut parsley.  It’s a very rich-tasting dish, so start with small portions.