Butternut squash risotto with pancetta and walnuts

    1 hour 5 min

    This hearty risotto is fabulous winter fare. The butternut squash is roasted for intense flavour. The crispy pancetta and toasted walnuts are the perfect finishing touches. Serve as a warming main course, or as a starter in smaller portions. Instead of pancetta cubes, you can use diced streaky bacon.


    Greater London, England, UK
    11 people made this

    Serves: 8 starter-sized portions

    • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 150g pancetta cubes
    • 80g walnuts, roughly chopped
    • 4 red onions, chopped
    • 250ml white wine, divided
    • 185g Arborio rice
    • 1 litre chicken stock
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 100g grated Parmesan cheese

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:50min  ›  Ready in:1hr5min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the butternut squash on a baking tray in an even layer, ensuring you don't overcrowd the tray (use two if you have to). Roast the squash in the preheated oven until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, prepare the pancetta: Fry in a frying pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper, then set aside.
    3. Toast the walnuts: In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts till golden brown. Set aside.
    4. Bring 1 litre of chicken stock to the boil in a saucepan, then immediately reduce heat to low. Keep it hot while you work.
    5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, sprinkle with salt and fry till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Start adding white wine, a couple of tablespoons at a time, allowing the wine to evaporate each time. Do this till you've used about 125ml of wine. The onions should be almost caramelised and reach a deep brown colour.
    6. Add the rice to the onions, and stir to coat the rice in the oil. Saute the rice along with the onions for 3 minutes.
    7. Add the remaining 125ml of white wine to the rice, and stir till the wine has been absorbed.
    8. Add 1/3 of the hot chicken stock, thyme and salt and pepper to taste; reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir until the chicken stock has been absorbed by the rice, 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the remaining chicken stock, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed. Add the butternut squash and walnuts, and stir.
    9. Test the rice at this point. If it needs further cooking, pour in the remaining stock, and continue stirring until the risotto is creamy and the rice is cooked but still firm to the bite.
    10. To serve: Spoon the risotto onto each serving plate. Sprinkle each plate with grated Parmesan cheese, and then with the crispy pancetta cubes.


    Make this vegetarian by omitting the pancetta and using vegetable stock.
    You can try this with other types of winter squash, or with pumpkin, which will work a treat!
    If you're not a fan of thyme, grated nutmeg would be a nice addition instead. You can also use a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme instead of dried.
    Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano cheese work just as well as Parmesan in this recipe.

    How to make risotto

    Check out our How to make risotto guide for foolproof tips on making perfect risotto every time!

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    Reviews in English (3)


    Great! I don't usually like nuts in savoury dishes but put the walnuts in all the same, and they really added to both the taste and texture with a bit of crunchiness. Used bacon bits instead of pancetta. Highly recommend this dish.  -  24 Oct 2015


    Delicious, I substituted the pancetta with Chorizo and omitted the walnuts, as I personally don't like them. Still a very very tasty meal. Half the above quantity made ample for me and my fella as a main meal.  -  07 Sep 2013


    Great recepie. Rich and meaty. Full of flavour.  -  28 Mar 2013