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Parmesan-Acorn Squash Brown Rice Risotto Recipe (Vegetarian)

Parmesan-Acorn Squash Risotto

Risotto is a perfect dinner for chilly night fare. It’s warm and creamy, a bit indulgent, and so, so comforting. In this new spin on the traditional Italian recipe, brown rice is transformed into a luxuriously smooth and buttery risotto with the help of roasted acorn squash, which is cooked down with garlic and finished off with freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Enjoy this vegetarian parmesan acorn squash risotto recipe, which can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and topping off with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkling of chopped walnuts instead.

Traditionally, risotto is made from cooking down Arborio rice (or another white rice variety) in a mixture of broth and wine until it becomes very soft, almost to a porridge-like consistency. Here, brown rice is used for a bit of extra whole grain goodness and just a hint of earthy sweetness, which complements the acorn squash wonderfully. Why acorn squash in risotto? We’re finding ways to bulk up our classic meals with extra vegetables, and this is an excellent way to sneak in some gorgeous orange winter squash, kicking up the flavor, color, and nutrition profile of your dinner all with one ingredient.

If you have other winter squash you like playing around with—butternut squash, kabocha, etc.—feel free to use them in this recipe just the same: roast, mash, and add.

Parmesan-Acorn Squash Risotto Recipe {Vegetarian}

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 cups short-grain brown rice
6 cups water
Generous pinch sea salt
1 small acorn squash, halved horizontally
4 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
Splash apple cider vinegar
Freshly grated black pepper, to taste|
¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Chopped fresh parsley or basil, for serving

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From the Organic Authority Files


  1. Combine rice, water, and salt in medium stockpot; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until rice is soft, about 30 minutes. Drain all but about ½ to 1 cup of cooking liquid from pot.
  2. Meanwhile, roast the acorn squash: Preheat oven to 350F. Place squash halves and unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet; add enough water to baking sheet to cover the bottom. Place in middle rack and cook until squash is very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the cooked flesh from acorn squash; transfer to pot of cooked rice and reserved cooking liquid. Squeeze garlic from cloves into rice as well. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar.
  4. Put pot of rice back on medium-low heat. Using a fork, mash squash and garlic gently into rice, stirring to mix well (you’re not mashing the rice, but rather incorporating the cooked squash into it). Cook, stirring, until the consistency is smooth, creamy, and just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (not so liquidy that it drips right off of it). Depending on how much liquid you have left in the pot, you may need to add more water if the mixture is very thick, or boil out a bit of the liquid if it’s thin and soupy.
  5. Once desired consistency is reached, season to taste with pepper and stir in parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and incorporated.
  6. Serve with an extra few shavings of cheese, grating of black pepper, and sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs.

Related on Organic Authority

The Perfect Wintery Vegan Risotto Recipe

Mushroom Asparagus Barley ‘Risotto’ with Gouda Goat Cheese Recipe

Brown Rice and Beet Risotto with Coconut Milk

Image from Flickr,, CC BY 2.0

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