Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini – Love and Lemons

October 27, 2017

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

Round 3 of National Cookbook Month: Butternut squash risotto & arancini! Being Japanese and growing up in Japan, I love rice in all forms. That being said, I don’t remember ever ordering risotto in a restaurant. I’ve made risotto once and while it was good, I just prefer pasta. So then why did I choose this recipe to review? Two summers ago, Tristan and I went to Canada and found Riders Pizza in Cumberland. Tristan had arancini for the first time and was blown away, so I just had to try making them at home!

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

So this is a two-day process: risotto on day one and arancini on day two. So to make the butternut squash risotto, start by sautéeing the onions and butternut squash in a sauce pan.

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

Add the rice and garlic and sautée for just a minute. If you read this post or this post you know I’m not the biggest fan of garlic right now. The recipe says to add two cloves of garlic, so I added one clove semi-crushed and took it out before serving. This way, I’m getting the aroma of garlic but not consuming it. Add white wine and vegetable broth little by little, until the rice soaks up all the liquid.

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

This butternut squash risotto was incredible. It’s creamy, it’s comforting, and it was the perfect lunch on a cold day. The recipe yields 4 servings of risotto but suggested I save half to make arancini the next day. And while it was filling, it was hard not to go back for seconds.

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

I kept the leftover risotto in the fridge to chill overnight, then rolled them up into balls the next day. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, except I didn’t have any smoked mozzarella so I put some shredded mozzarella in the center of each ball.

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

I’m not sure what happened, but these babies completely collapsed in the oven. Arancinis are generally deep-fried… was oven-baking the problem? Or maybe because I used shredded mozzarella instead of cubed? I’m not sure, but it was disappointing. Especially since the risotto on day one was so amazing!

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

I managed to roll them back up into round-ish balls using my hands and served them with some grated parmesan and simple marinara sauce.

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

Well, they aren’t pretty but they sure were delicious. Whether you enjoy just the butternut squash risotto, or go all out and make the arancini the next day, this should be on your to-make list! Tristan and I had the same opinion about the risotto and arancini; we love them both, but the surprise factor was bigger for the risotto because we didn’t expect it to be so amazing. It was so good that we started brainstorming other flavors of risotto we’d like to try at home.

By the way, it was National Pumpkin Day on Thursday (it’s already Friday as I write this). I guess butternut squash is technically not a pumpkin… but you could celebrate by making this dessert or this pasta!

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini

Yield: 4 servings

Butternut Squash Risotto & Arancini


    Butternut squash risotto
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cups (480ml) cubed butternut squash
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and semi-crushed
  • 1 cup (240ml) uncooked Japanese short grain rice
  • ½ cup (120ml) dry white wine
  • 4 cups (960ml) hot vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup (120ml) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  • ½ cup (120ml) fresh basil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ recipe risotto, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • 2 oz (60g) cubed mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (240ml) panko bread crumbs
  • Marinara sauce


    Butternut squash risotto
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sautée for a couple minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the butternut squash and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the rice and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sautée for just a minute. Add the wine and stir until the rice has soaked up all of the wine.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, ¾ cup (180ml) at a time, stirring continuously and allowing the rice to absorb the broth before adding the next.
  4. Once all the vegetable broth is absorbed, stir in the olive oil, parmigiano, and basil. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately. Save half if making arancini the next day.
  1. Preheat the oven to 392°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll the chilled risotto into six balls, hiding a piece of mozzarella in the center of each ball. Roll the balls in the panko and place them on the parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes and serve with marinara sauce.


Recipe by Jeanine Donofrio, slightly changed to accommodate my current food aversion, and rewritten in my own words.


I’m bringing these to this week’s Fiesta Friday! Thanks to Angie, Monika, and Sandhya for hosting!

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  • Reply TurksWhoEat October 27, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    These look amazing!! I love arancini, they are a Christmas staple in my house. Adding butternut squash is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Ai October 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you! Arancini on Christmas sounds amazing. What do you put in yours?

  • Reply Alison's Allspice October 28, 2017 at 5:55 am

    I have never tried to make risotto, but I do love butternut squash so I’ll have to try it! I would never have guessed that the arancini fell apart in the oven, your pictures still look great!

    • Reply Ai October 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Thank you! I was so gutted when I opened the oven door and saw them all flat… I wasn’t sure how I was going to take presentable photos but I managed haha

  • Reply Liz October 29, 2017 at 6:08 am

    I adore arancini, it could have been that they weren’t fried. They still look delicious.

    • Reply Ai October 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Thank you, Liz! I’ll definitely try making them again, next time fried!

  • Reply Sandhya Nadkarni October 30, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Ai, This looks delicious and healthier (than the deep fried one)
    Your presentation is spectacular! Thanks for sharing it with us at FF

    • Reply Ai October 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Thank you, Sandhya! Happy FF!

  • Reply Jenny@dragonflyhomerecipes October 30, 2017 at 9:47 am

    This risotto looks so delicious! I love butternut squash, and I can imagine it tastes great in a risotto. What a perfect fall dish!

    • Reply Ai October 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Thank you, Jenny!

  • Reply Kat (The Baking Explorer) October 30, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I love butternut squash risotto so turning them into arancini sounds like a delicious idea!

    • Reply Ai November 1, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks, Kat!

  • Reply Angie November 2, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    This is the best. THE BEST! I’m going to give them a try and hopefully they won’t fall apart on me! Btw, Ai, are you not on Pinterest?

    • Reply Ai November 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thanks, Angie! Fingers crossed for you and your arancini haha.
      I am on Pinterest, just not very active…😥

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