Risotto alla Zucca (Butternut Squash Risotto)

A pefect date night meal: Risotto alla Zucca | amerryfeast.com

At my bridal shower before I got married, the ladies wrote me notes of advice.

Here are the two I remember clearly:

  1. Never go to bed angry.
  2. And always make time for dates.

Both are great advice, and both have been difficult to do during different chapters of our marriage.

After being married 22 years, we still have date night. In fact, it seems to be more important the longer we are married. Date night has morphed over the years from graduate school days, to having newborns and toddlers in the house, to trying to find babysitters just to have a meal alone occasionally and now we have teenagers that practically push us out of the house. What is that about?! Ha!

We’ve been missing our date nights out lately with work and school and just life. Some weeks it just feels like a lot of effort to go back out into the world again on a week night. So we’ve made a grand effort lately to have date night at home on the weeks we don’t go out.

Some weeks we have a bedroom picnic which sounds more exotic than it really is! We get a platter of cheeses and crackers, olives, salami-or whatever we have on hand,  a glass of vino and watch a favorite show or read and listen to music in our bedroom while we have our “picnic”.

It’s lovely actually.  We are at the stage in life where with 2 teenagers in the house, we are constantly surrounded by talking and laughing and fighting and homework and planning the next social event and retreating to our room feels like a cozy happy quiet place. The kids think it’s cute and encourage us to have our “picnic dates”. I’m not really sure why, other than on these nights they get to fend for themselves in the kitchen which they seem to love.

Anyway, this story is not about picnic nights, it is about risotto, something altogether different. I’m just sharing the back story…

Some weeks we have picnic night, some weeks we have risotto.
A pefect date night meal: Risotto alla Zucca | amerryfeast.com

Risotto alla Zucca (Butternut Squash Risotto)

Risotto is my love.  A good risotto makes me weak in the knees. I haven’t always felt that way, but while we were living in Milan I tasted so many different kinds. I learned all about making it and mixing up the flavors spotlighting what is in

I haven’t always felt that way, but while we were living in Milan I tasted SO many different kinds. I learned all about the secrets of making it creamy (don’t rush & allow time for it to sit a minute before serving) and mixing up the flavors spotlighting what is in season. (Italy has definitely got it going on with changing up its dishes with the seasons.) Our little village in Italy was surrounded by arborio rice fields, making me even more risotto obsessed.

Fast forward to present time. We’ve been back in the states 4 months now, and its getting winter-ish here and all I want is a great plate of creamy risotto. I have yet to find a great one in Boise, but I do love making it, and now that I’m figuring out where to get good arborio rice I can make it anytime I want. Yippee!

I’ve taken to making some risotto variations for recent date nights at home. It’s a perfect date night food when I feel like cooking. It isn’t difficult, but it feels special and takes a bit of on hands-on time. I enjoy the therapeutic stirring and the sipping that goes along with it.

Last week I could not get Risotto alla Zucca out of my mind and so I made it. I have to tell you, this risotto is the bomb. The creamy squash & rice mixed with the salty pancetta and sharp parmigiano-reggiano was heaven in a bite. I seriously wanted to lick my plate when it was gone. I hope you love it too!

A pefect date night meal: Risotto alla Zucca | amerryfeast.com

A pefect date night meal: Risotto alla Zucca | amerryfeast.com


Risotto alla Zucca (Butternut Squash Risotto)
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Heather
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
Risotto alla Zucca is a seasonal dish found all over the Lombardy region of Italy in the fall and winter. Zucca can be pumpkin or squash, I use butternut squash in my version. If you are vegetarian, feel free to omit the pancetta. Play around with different types of cheese, for this recipe I finished the dish with parmigiano-reggiano because I love the sharpness with the creamy squash risotto.
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 slices of pancetta, diced (you can substitute bacon, or leave out if you are vegetarian)
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1/4 in.
  • <span class=”mceItemHidden” data-mce-bogus=”1″><span></span>2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice</span>
  • <span class=”mceItemHidden” data-mce-bogus=”1″><span></span>1 cup dry white wine (I like to use Sauvignon blanc)</span>
  • 4-6 cups low sodium vegetable broth (hot)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (optional, for garnish)
  1. In a large shallow pan cook pancetta over medium high heat until browned and crispy. Remove pancetta and set aside. Keep pancetta drippings in the pan.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add 1 T. butter and chopped squash. Cook until slightly tender but still keeping its form, remove from pan and set aside. (see notes for alternative method)
  3. Add 1 T. butter and the chopped onion, cooking for 5 minutes until onions are colored but not brown.
  4. Add the rice and stir, cooking for 3-4 minutes letting the rice get slightly toasted.
  5. <span class=”mceItemHidden” data-mce-bogus=”1″><span></span>Adjust stove temperature as needed- medium low works great for my stove at this point.</span>
  6. Add the White wine and stir, cooking until absorbed.
  7. Start adding the hot broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring and adding more broth as it gets absorbed into the rice.
  8. <span class=”mceItemHidden” data-mce-bogus=”1″><span></span>Cook until rice is creamy but still al dente, about 15-18 min.</span>
  9. Add cooked squash and gently stir to combine.
  10. <span class=”mceItemHidden” data-mce-bogus=”1″><span></span>Finish dish by adding 2 T. butter and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, stirring to combine. Remove from heat.
  11. Let sit for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings- adding salt and pepper as needed.</span>
  12. Serve immediately, topping each serving with crispy pancetta and more cheese if desired.
* You can alternatively roast the squash in the oven until fork tender, and stir into the risotto during the last 10 minutes of cooking.


Let me know how it turns out! What’s in your favorite risotto recipe? I’m always looking for new ideas…

xo- H

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A pefect date night meal: Risotto alla Zucca | amerryfeast.com


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