Melissa Clark’s butternut squash risotto with pistachios and lemon

I have chronicled my love for risotto and all things rice (particularly dessert) many times in this blog. As a child, arroz con almejas was my favorite dish. Short grain rice cooked with garlic, parsley and clams. To this day when I go back to my parents’ home, I ask my mom to cook it for me.

When Melissa Clark’s new book “Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make” arrived, I was instantly drawn to the butternut squash risotto with pistachios and lemons. Aromas of leek, garlic, rosemary and butternut squash in my kitchen was what I needed on that rainy Sunday morning.

Jon carefully grated the lemon zest while I stirred the thickening rice. “Is it ready yet?” he asked anxiously. He was proud to be adding the finishing touches to our lunch. Meanwhile, Miren sat on the counter nibbling on the chopped pistachios and grated Parmesan. It was one of those days.

The risotto was gone in a matter of minutes. That’s how good it was. Fragrant, creamy, woodsy and fresh.

As the title suggests, Melissa’s book contains 120 recipes, both savory and sweet, organized by month and season. Just like I like to eat. My next recipe? Winter salad with fennel, radicchio, walnuts and Manchego. It has my name written all over it.

And for the muffins? Well, what I can say. We always have muffins in the house.

There was leftover butternut squash that I steamed and mashed (I like to keep leftovers in the freezer for last minute cakes). This time gluten and dairy free butternut squash, apple and hazelnut muffins with quinoa, coconut milk, coconut oil, hazelnuts and all kind of goodness.

They were perfect for our Halloween breakfast the next day.

And speaking of risotto… during this summer’s trip to the Basque Country, I paid a visit to my friend David de Jorge whose cooking show “Robin Food” is immensely inspiring, laid back and fun. Always full of great ideas and clever humor.

I was invited back to cook an autumn-inspired lunch of clam and wild mushroom risotto followed by a gluten free plum, red currant and quinoa galette. The show finally aired yesterday and you can watch it here (In Spanish).

Eskerrik asko David!

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon

from Melissa Clark’s “Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make”

1/2 pound peeled butternut squash
about 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
2 rosemary branches
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped salted pistachios
grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor fitted with a fine grating attachment, shred the squash.

In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Melt the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring them occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice, squash, rosermary, and salt. Stir until most of the grains of rice appear semi-translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. This means they have absorbed some of he fat from the pan, which will help keep the grains separate from each other as they form their creamy sauce.

Pour the wine into the pan and let it cook off for about 2 minutes. Add a ladleful of stock (about 1/2 cup) and cook, stirring it constantly and making sure to scrape around the sides, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring almost constantly, until the risotto has turned creamy and thick, and the grains of rice are tender with a bit of bite, about 25 to 30 minutes. Pluck out the rosemary branch and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed. Garnish with the pistachios and optional cheese before serving.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Hazelnut Muffins

makes 15 muffins

1/2 small butternut squash puree, peeled, seeded and diced
3 eggs
1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (70 g) superfine brown rice flour
1/2 cup (70 g) quinoa flour
1/3 cup (45 g) hazelnut meal
3 tablespoons (20 g) tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Gala apple, peeled and diced into 1/8-inch pieces
1 ounce (30 g) chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Steam the diced squash until tender, about 10 minutes. Puree it in the food processor and measure 1/2 cup (115 g). Reserve the rest for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butternut squash puree, eggs, light brown sugar, natural cane sugar, coconut milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the superfine brown rice flour, quinoa flour, hazelnut meal, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine. Fold in the diced apples and hazelnuts.

Pour the batter into the muffin molds or baking cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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66 Responses to “Melissa Clark’s butternut squash risotto with pistachios and lemon”

  1. I may not have as big a love for rice as you do but I do love risotto and this seems like the perfect fall recipe! Will definitely have to give it a try.

  2. Natashia says:

    Butternut squash risotto is one of my favorites!! I normally roast it, but might give grating a try.. :)

  3. Kathryn O says:

    Leeks, garlic, rosemary and butternut squash? Sold. I bet the risotto smells incredible as it cooks, and it looks like the perfect dish for a cool, rainy day. Also, love the muffins you made with the leftover squash – so beautiful!

  4. Mags says:

    I can’t wait to try out this muffin recipe!

  5. Oh, you’re so cute in this video.. you seem shy even if you’re a “celebrity” :-D
    I can understand only a little Spanish, but your friend seems a nice person :-)

  6. Laura says:

    I grew up eating squash risotto, in the Venice region we have a special squash that is really orange and sweet. It is an ultimate comfort food.

    I can’t wait to try the muffins, one thing I miss being gluten free is muffins. Will try them asap!

  7. Joy says:

    This sounds so very very good and is all kinds of perfect.

  8. tinajo says:

    As always, you make everything look delicious! :-)

  9. I love me some risotto. Unfortunately, my blood sugar always takes a hit after eating it – too many carbohydrates. Once in a while, I partake on a sinful indulgence. This recipe would prompt me to do just that! Thank you for inspiring me!

  10. Our favorite risotto is Ina Garten’s Butternut squash risotto, so I will try this version for sure. The lemon and pistachios sound really interesting.

  11. Emily says:

    risotto is one of my favorites and this looks gorgeous! have a wonderful day :*

  12. A wonderful risotto and great muffins! Delightfully seasonal.



  13. Wow, your photos are just breathtaking! I just featured the risotto in my weekly cookbook review/recipe column and am determined to cook my way through Melissa’s marvelous book!
    Susan Leigh Sherrill
    Food Editor
    The Record

  14. Beautiful post–as always. Risotto is always an indulgence, and this one is no exception. But, my oh my, it looks fabulous. The muffins as well. Thanks for posting them.

  15. Melissa Clark has a new book??? AWESOME!! Love her, and she has SUCH a lovely name, tee hee :) Can’t wait to try this risotto!

  16. Those muffins looks divine!! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Celeste says:

    Oh, if only I wasn’t allergic to pistachios! Butternut squash risotto is my favorite!

  18. I keep hearing such wonderful things about Melissa! I been needing to find some creative ways to use up some butternut squash I have. It seems to me that I need to start eating more risotto … and muffins! Darn.

  19. Both recipes look absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Roberta says:

    I loved watching the video, and hearing you speak in spanish (so familiar to me, being my grandma aregentinian…)!I’ll defintely choose carnaroli instead of arborio, but the risotto looked ecxellent anyway
    Risotto perfetto, brava!

  21. Tina says:

    what a great idea! I’ve just made this fabulous risotto and the result is really stunning :) I was thinking about a different version but won this one of yours :) bon apetit mes amis ;)

  22. Junsui says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that there should always be muffins in the house!

  23. This butternut squash risotto is going to be appearing on my dinner table very soon. This looks like heaven.

  24. Valentina says:

    Perfect Autumn fare, and I truly enjoyed the program, David is great! And so were you, Aran. Que gusto! :)
    I just discovered you (by accident- if there is such a thing…) And felt right at home in your cyber-world. That sense of recognition of home. You have an instant fan, and can’t wait for your upcoming book! Congratulations. :)
    Pero lo que hizo que me saltaran las lagrimas era al ver tus fotos de Vermont y darme cuenta que estabas con mi querida Nadia! Que pequeno es el mundo! Si hubiera sabido que estabais in Francia… se me rompio el corazon por un instante. Pero mi turno sera para la proxima. :)
    Que gusto, de verdad! Recibe los mas calidos saludos desde Chipre, Valentina

  25. Jen says:

    No one has ever made squash look and sound so good. I also love rice and hope to use up my garden’s butternut squash in equally as delicious ways.

  26. Deeba PAB says:

    Love those words Fragrant, woody, fresh…like all your posts Aran. My morning is smiling. Beautiful!!

  27. Rikki says:

    I always get so hungry after looking at your photos! They’re beautiful [:

  28. Astrid says:

    It’s 5.30am on a dark morning in East Yorkshire and I’ve just drooled over your Butternut Squash risotto and muffin pictures. It is making me so hungry, and my stomach is now rumbling so loud. Love cooking risotto, it’s so soothing, stirring and adding – Italians say it’s an act of love taking time to cook for those you love, and I’m sure I smile when doing it. Just love your pictures, beautiful as ever. Must find food now.

  29. helena says:

    Made this tonight, slightly modified to make it vegan (olive oil instead of butter, veggie stock, no parm) and it turned out AMAZING. Huge thanks! I will definitely try the muffins. I may have to buy this book! 101cookbooks previewed another recipe from it today which also looks delicious.

  30. Thanks everyone for your super comments. And so happy to read that some of you made it. isn’t this risotto great?

    Valentina- y como conoces a Nadia? Que mundo mas pequeño!

    Eskerrik asko!

  31. Hola, yo he llegado a tu página desde Robin Food, ya sabes de las dificultades que tenemos en éste país con el ingles, así que te animo a que pongas las recetas también en castellano. Algo así como Alicia Mañas en amiloquemegustaescocinar, que tiene un blog en italiano y en español. Saludos y enhorabuena por tu trabajo

  32. Gretchen says:

    There is something so comforting about rice–risotto, rice pudding–perfect for a cool autumn day.

  33. Yue Huang says:

    You could always count on Melissa. This looks like the perfect fall meal. I have to try it soon!

  34. La verdad he quedado enamorada de la tarta que preparaste al final del show. Nunca he comido una, creo que es tiempo de empezar.

  35. Sini says:

    I have to make the risotto this weekend. Looks divine!

    Have a nice time in NYC. Hopefully the snow has melted… ;)

  36. Gorgeous photos as always! And the recipes look divine! If I’m not concerned about gluten, can I use unbleached white or whole wheat and in what amount? Would I need the tapioca starch with a wheat flour?

  37. Juan- a ver so tengo mas tiempo y me pongo a ello. Se que muchos lo apreciarian.

    BJ- simply add the weight (not volume) of the superfund brown rice, quinoa, hazelnut and tapioca and use that same amount of wheat flour. It will work.

    Thank you everyone. I’m returning home from a trip to NYC where I saw first design samples for the book. So exciting!

  38. What a perfect recipe for fall. I was thinking about a butternut squash risotto as a side for Thanksgiving!

  39. You inspired my tastebuds to crave risotto today (: I am so inspired by your photos as well, I ended up posting my own risotto recipe today: It’s really the perfect fall food, isn’t it? Thanks for the inspiration all around!

  40. The butternut squash risotto looks so good!

  41. Cakebrain says:

    I just love looking at all your photos! So gorgeous and indicative of fall!

  42. Your pictures inspired me to cook and to paint.

  43. Annalyn says:

    That looks so dang good! I love butternut squash! I’ll have to try this!

  44. I’ve been wanting to cook from Melissa Clark’s “Cook This Now.” This is my favorite eating season with winter squash tucked into everything imaginable—risotto and muffins being a staple. Both recipes sound incredible especially with hints of nuts in each, pistachios and hazelnuts. Off to the kitchen.

  45. I’m so inspired to make the risotto. The polka dot spoons are wonderful. Are they from France??

  46. This is what I’ll be cooking this weekend. Sounds delicious.

  47. QlinArt says:

    The photography is fabulous! The risotto makes me very hungry.

  48. Rice to me is what risotto is to you :) This looks lovely Aran. I watched your video although didn’t understand much (my grip on Spanish is poor) but you appear just as I imagined you would be!

  49. MR says:

    I love how you captured some of the preparation steps, even with such compusure. Normally messy steps, cleaned up and captured gracefully. Looking forward to making this- what a great fall treat!

  50. ani bailey says:

    I just tried this recipe last night. I didnt think I’d be able to nail it. I was super excited that my husband loved it too. He thinks we should add it as a thanksgiving dish. I think I will. I didnt shred the squash like you said, I couldnt figure out if it should be cooked or not to shred, plus I didnt have a food processor, so I cut into cubes and baked them for 30 mins. It mashed right in with risotto. Got a nice upper arm workout stirring and stirring and stirring… .

  51. Anonymous says:

    can anyone tell me where the polka dot spoons are from!? so cute!

  52. Sini says:

    Made these muffins today as we celebrated the birth of my cousins little baby girl. They were so flavorful, delicious fall muffins.

  53. Maude says:

    My, my, time sure flies! I had printed these recipes to try them, and I never realized it’s been almost a year now!

    In any case, I made the most of my squash, first the delicious risotto, then the muffins (super moist and not too sweet, and filled with the flavours of the season – just the way I like them! I should have roasted the hazelnuts though, they kind of stand out…).

    And I also used the leftover squash in a variation of your potato and butternut soup (I add apples or pears).

    So this was really a Cannelle & Vanille weekend! ;)

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes!

  54. Your food and photography are stunning. I must try the risotto. I was looking for one with pistachios, and this looks perfect. I am also a big fan of Basque wines, both from Spain and France. Thanks!

  55. […] I bought the other day at my favorite health food store.  What I found was a stunning food blog, canelle et vanille, written and photographed by Aran Goyoaga, a Basque chef living in South Florida, who offered her […]

  56. Your blog is divine. I love the little plastic spoons. Adorable!

  57. […] Butternut Squash Risotto with Rosemary, Lemon, and Walnuts. Henry’s, and possibly George’s, favorite dinner. People say they’re scared of risotto, because of all the stirring, I think. But it really doesn’t bother me much. George was super clingy while I was making this so I had to pull a stool up next to the stove and nurse him while I stirred. I didn’t mind because I like sitting so very much. Anyway, risotto. Saute the allium of your choice (I usually use onion instead of leeks because it’s what I’ve got), add the rice, skip the wine if you don’t have it (I never have it), and ladle in a half cup of hot chicken stock at a time, stir and add more as the rice absorbs it, repeat for 25 minutes or so, until the rice is just cooked. The butternut is grated and added at the same time as the rice, and it magically melts into the risotto and makes it creamier and gives it a subtle sweetness that works great with the parmesan and other garnishes. Henry ate three bowlfuls, and George finished his serving, making it pretty much the only meal that he’ll eat from start to finish. […]

  58. […] 21. Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon […]

  59. […] Butternut Risotto with Parmesan, Rosemary, and Lemon. Flush with chicken stock from our giant bird, Henry pleaded for risotto. I made it for him, but Andy and I are so tired of it we both ate more thanksgiving leftovers instead. […]

  60. […] Butternut Risotto. I don’t ever want to eat another bowl of risotto for as long as I live. I had chicken stock in the house though, and Henry knew it, and asked if I could please please make him risotto, so I did. Not pictured, because I wanted to take a break from sharing sad taco pictures with you, but Andy, George, and I all ate bacon and egg tacos instead. […]

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