This vibrant Acorn Squash Risotto features short grain brown rice, and gets its color from tender squash coupled with rainbow chard leaves and stems. Serve this acorn squash recipe as a plant-based appetizer, main dish, or side. It will be a crowd-pleaser in any instance!
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As the weather starts to get cool, veggie-loaded risottos are one of my favorite things to make!
Here in Minneapolis, we’ve been enjoying a gorgeous October, with temperatures in the high 60s and all day sunshine. But that’s about to change tonight. There’s snow in the forecast for Saturday, and I’m not too happy about it…
Even by Minnesota standards, an October snowstorm is rare and unwelcome! The only silver lining in this whole debacle is that I can really dive into cold weather food.
This Acorn Squash Risotto would be the perfect thing to hunker down and enjoy with snow falling out the window. It’s so warm and comforting! But if you don’t live in the Midwest, don’t worry, you can still enjoy it even without the unseasonable weather.
How to Make Acorn Squash Risotto (with brown rice!)
Unlike classic risottos, this recipe does not require constant stirring. You’ll still need to whirl your spoon around in the pot from time to time, but you can mostly prep this dish and forget it about it while it’s cooking.
This is partially because the recipe calls for short grain brown rice, which has a higher starch content than regular brown rice and makes for a perfectly creamy risotto.
Plus, short grain brown rice is a little more nutritious than arborio rice (which is typically used in risotto), since it has the whole grain intact.
To make this risotto:
- Dice a shallot and 3 garlic cloves. Cook them in a pot with some olive oil.
- Slice an acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Then dice it into chunks. The squash eventually gets tender enough that is essentially disappears into the risotto, giving it a beautiful orange color. So it doesn’t matter what size your chunks are, and you also don’t need to peel it.
- Add the squash to the pot and cook for a few minutes before adding the vegetable stock and rice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover the pot after this time is up and stir in the chopped rainbow chard leaves and stems. Let the risotto simmer, uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes, or until more of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon juice. And enjoy!
- You can also roast the acorn squash seeds to use as a garnish, if desired. Simply rinse them off to remove any flesh, pat dry, then toss in olive oil and sea salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 300 degrees F.
Here are a few FAQs when it comes to cooking with acorn squash.
Is the skin on acorn squash edible?
Acorn squash skin is edible, but it’s important to cook it well enough so that it’s tender and easy to eat. Since the squash disintegrates into this risotto dish, you don’t need to peel it.
The skin is very high in fiber and provides a ton of nutrients, so that’s another reason to leave it on!
Is acorn squash healthy?
Similar to other winter squashes, acorn squash is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and energizing complex carbohydrates. One cup of acorn squash provides 37% of the Daily Value for vitamin C. It’s also high in magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin A.
Lastly, this recipe is an excellent reason to try rainbow chard, especially if you are not used to cooking with this leafy green or you need to use up extra chard that you have on hand!
What to Serve with Acorn Squash Risotto
Risotto can be an appetizer, main dish, or side. It would go well with baked fish, chicken, turkey, or pork if you decide to make it as a side.
For other veggie-loaded risottos, check out: Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Brown Rice Risotto or Baked Brown Rice Risotto with Asparagus. And for more dishes with the headliner veggies, you may like the Maple Swiss Chard Salad with Turkey or Lentil Stuffed Acorn Squash.
If you make this recipe, be sure to rate and review it using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and don’t forget to follow and tag @its_a_vegworld_afterall on Instagram! Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Acorn Squash Risotto with Rainbow Chard
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot – peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic – minced or pressed
- 1 acorn squash – seeds removed (can be roasted and used as garnish) and diced
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup short grain brown rice – dry
- 4 cups rainbow chard – stems and leaves chopped; loosely packed
- 1 cup parmesan cheese – freshly grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice – can also add zest for more flavor
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for a few minutes while you prepare the squash.
- Wash the acorn squash and slice in half. Remove the seeds (reserve for later if you want to use them as garnish) and cut the squash into rough cubes. You do not need to peel it.
- Add the squash to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to soften. Add the vegetable stock and short grain brown rice and increase heat to high to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook for 40-45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the squash has disintegrated into the risotto. Stir occasionally.
- If you reserved the squash seeds, rinse them off in a colander to remove any flesh. Pat dry and toss with 1 tsp olive oil and a few dashes of sea salt in a mixing bowl. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees F. Set aside to use for garnish.
- Take the cover off the pot and stir in the rainbow chard leaves and stems. Cook for 5-10 more minutes (with the pot uncovered), stirring occasionally, until most of the remaining liquid evaporates. Stir in the parmesan and lemon juice. Taste and add salt, pepper, more cheese, or lemon zest as desired.
- Transfer to serving dishes, garnish with roasted acorn squash seeds (if you made them), and enjoy warm.