Recipe: Butternut squash ‘quinoa’ risotto


I’ve been on a quinoa kick recently, and last night I tested it as a risotto substitute. I’m happy to say it was a very easy success.

I was able to get my hands on a butternut squash last week, so I used that and some arugula in the risotto. All told, we had a healthy serving of veggies, protein, calcium, fiber and a little healthy starch and fat.

The sweetness of the squash and the pepperiness of the arugula paired very well, and the parmesan added creamy deliciousness without fighting the other flavors. I added a little salt and pepper during cooking, but it may not even need it. The ingredients came together to take care of all of it perfectly.

We served the risotto next to a couple lean ribeyes. My husband might be the huge Jimmy Buffett fan of the house, but I’m the one with the carnivorous habits. Last night was great though because he really loved his steak, too. I’ve switched up my marinade, and he mentioned how much he liked it, and how it didn’t need any A1 sauce, multiple times.

We were both proud members of the clean plate club last night.

For the steak marinade, I mixed equal parts good balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce with a little dijon mustard, a small squeeze of agave nectar (could also use honey) and garlic pepper. I only had about 3 hours to marinate them, but it proved to be enough time for all the flavors to meld.

This recipe serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a vegetarian meal.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto

  • 2.5 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup dry,uncooked quinoa
  • 1 large handful / half a bag of fresh arugula
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cube and steam squash until it is almost mashable.

In a large skillet, combine oil, garlic, onion and quinoa over low-medium heat. Stir continuously  for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell the quinoa starting to toast. Add squash and arugula, along with about 3 turns each of  your salt and pepper grinders. Turn the heat up to medium, and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add half of your broth, and cook until all of it is absorbed. Heat the remaining broth and add 1 cup more of it to the dish. Stir regularly, and begin mashing up the squash with your wooden stirring spoon. Leave just enough unmashed to give it a little texture. Once all of the broth is absorbed, turn the heat back down to low, add the cheese and stir. Finally, add the remaining (hot) 1/4 cup of broth and stir until the risotto is creamy. Serve hot, and enjoy!

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