A staple dinner in our house, this gluten free risotto combines sweet roasted butternut squash with salty pan-fried pancetta to create the ultimate comfort food. My husband regularly declares this to be his favourite meal.
Make it a dinner party worthy dish by adding a fancy salad on the side with a glass or two of white wine, or scoff at home on a cooler evening with plenty of parmesan cheese served on top.
If you want to make this risotto family friendly (my toddler loves this dinner), simply use a low salt stock and go easy on the seasoning. You can then add salt to the adult portions instead and keep salt content lower for any little’uns.
One last tip before we get to the recipe – leftovers from this risotto are AMAZING! So make a double batch if you fancy and you’ll have a lovely dinner in the fridge for the next day. You could also transform the leftover risotto into arancini balls (drooooool). I’ve a baked arancini recipe coming soon, so watch this space!
Okay, let’s have that recipe shall we! Scroll on down for aaaaall the details.
Butternut Squash and Pancetta Risotto (Serves 2 (with some leftovers) or 3 people)
- A drizzle of olive oil
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 large white onion, finely diced
- 250g arborio rice
- 175ml white wine
- A litre of stock, made up of one gluten free chicken stock cube and one gluten free vegetable stock cube
- One large butternut squash
- A teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
- 150g pancetta cubes (Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients Italian diced pancetta 2x77g is my fave, or equivalent)
- 100g grated parmesan cheese or grana padano cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A knob of salted butter
- Heat your oven to 180C and prepare a large roasting tray by drizzling with a little olive oil.
- Chop the butternut squash in half then peel and scoop out the seeds (you can skip the peeling stage if you want, as the skin is edible, but the squash will be much softer without the skin). Then chop the flesh of the squash into small cubes of approximately 2cm squared. Place them on the roasting tray with salt and pepper, a sprinkle of fresh or dried thyme (three fresh sprigs or a teaspoon of dried) and a little more olive oil. Then place into the oven to roast slowly. Check the squash every 10 minutes or so and turn the oven down to 160C if the edges of the squash start to go too dark. The resulting roasted squash should be soft and sweet.
- After your squash has been cooking for 15 minutes, you can start making the risotto. Take a large saucepan and add a little olive oil and a knob of butter. Add the diced onion and cook on a low heat until the onion has turned translucent.
- Add the garlic to the pan, still over a low heat, and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next you add the dry arborio rice straight to the pan – give it a good stir so it starts to soak up the buttery garlic juices in the pan.
- Turn the heat up to medium and pour in the white wine. Stir the rice until most of the liquid had evaporated.
- Now you start to integrate the stock, adding about 100ml at a time and stirring constantly to avoid the risotto sticking to the bottom of the pan. By adding the liquid gradually you will ensure you don’t add too much and end up with a sloppy mess! The rice with quadruple in volume once cooked and if you run out of stock, just add some water until the rice is nice and soft (or al dente if you prefer it the Italian way).
- Once cooked, stir in the parmesan cheese and lots of black pepper. Set aside for a couple of minutes while you cook the pancetta.
- Pan fry the pancetta cubes until they are nice and crispy – pour off any excess fat and set them aside on a piece of kitchen paper. Then add to the risotto pan.
- Take the squash out of the oven now (if you haven’t already) and add to the risotto.
- Give everything a good stir, adjust seasoning with extra pepper if needed (add salt if you wish, but the pancetta already lends a salty quality to the dish) and serve. Have extra parmesan available for those who like it cheesy. We have ours with a nice side salad and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. YUM.
If you enjoyed this recipe why not try one of my other gluten free main course ideas: