This is an easy, no-stir oven risotto with roasted butternut squash, crisp smoky bacon and kale. It has all the comfort of classic stovetop risotto, only it’s baked in the oven. There’s nothing better than being hands-free to sip on a glass of wine while it cooks!
Have you tried making oven risotto yet? It’s so, so good!
This satisfying (and easy to make) risotto is studded with tender baked butternut squash, crisp smoky bacon bits and finished with leafy kale.
While this risotto has all the comfort of a the usual stovetop-cooked one, you don’t feel like you’ve indulged in of a full-blown carb-fest after eating it.
To be honest, I will never turn down a bowl of the creamy, starchy goodness (enriched with butter, cheese and more butter) known as risotto.
But it’s not something that necessarily fits into regular rotation, if you know what I mean.
I created this risotto so it didn’t feel so much like a huge indulgence, and more like a weeknight dinner option.
Instead, it has a nice balance of vegetables in the mix, and just a smidgen of super-tasty meat protein.
Let me clarify – that’s meat in the form of crisp, bite-size chunks of porky bacon. Yum.
If you’re looking for a one-dish dinner that delivers a little bit of everything, I humbly offer this baked risotto as a contender.
Stovetop risotto can be a be of a diva – she wants your undivided attention.
And so do the people in your life, and if you have furry friends, them too.
Of course, we all know that anytime you lavish attention on anything and anyone, the payoff is usually good, right?
But in this case, “cheating” a little by letting the oven do the work is totally cool. It’s like delegating a task, only it’s an kitchen appliance punching the clock.
When it’s all said and done, you have a meal that feels elegant — restaurant worthy even – and yet so easy to make.
What is risotto rice?
Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with a special type of short-grain white rice.
Traditionally, the rice is stirred in a pot with incremental amounts of hot broth.
The starchy coating on the rice grains breaks down bit by bit. With each addition of liquid — along with the friction of stirring — the starch breaks down and forms a creamy texture.
How to cook oven risotto
Here’s how it works to make risotto in the oven:
Preheat your oven, and adjust the racks so that one is in the middle and one below it.
For this risotto, the butternut squash and bacon roast together on a sheet pan, while the rice cooks in an ovenproof skillet/saute pan — both at the same time.
Once the squash is tender and browned on the edges and the bacon chunks are crisp and nicely rendered, the rice should be done too.
When is risotto done?
You’ll know it’s cooked through when the grains have an al dente texture in the middle when you taste it.
Unlike stovetop risotto that cooks until each addition of liquid is absorbed, you’ll see some broth in the pan when the rice is done, which is what you want.
Once everything gets stirred in and the rice sets it will be a perfect texture.
Scoop the smoky bacon-flavored squash and the crisp bacon bits into the pan with the rice (leaving any excess fat behind) , stir in leafy kale and cheese, and it’s time to eat.
You might ask – what do you do with the extra time you’ve saved by not standing by the stove, stirring a pot?
I don’t know about you, but I use mine to open up a bottle of wine, pour myself a glass and clean up the cutting board.
When it’s done, you can serve this right out of the pan, family-style because that’s how we roll 🙂
Make this whole meal come together even easier by buying already cut-up squash – you can often find it in the produce section of your grocery store.
Do you have to use arborio rice to make risotto?
Authentic Italian arborio is a variety of short grain rice.
Other cultivars include carnaroli and vialone nano. They all have in common a plump, rounded grain and starchy coating.
Technically, you can make this oven risotto with other short grain, starchy white rices.
At different times, I’ve used types of short grain rice other than authentic Italian ones to make very fine risottos, including:
- California-grown arborio
- Paella rice, or Bomba rice
- Sushi rice
They’re all good choices to use to make risotto, so use whichever one you have.
Just be sure not to rinse rice when you make risotto – it’s a no-no.
Washing the rice eliminates the starch coating the grains, which is really the magical part of risotto.
More winter squash recipes you will love:
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Butter
- Harissa Butternnut Squash Salad
- Creamy Delicata Squash Pasta with Greens
Oven Risotto with Butternut Squash, Kale and Bacon
- 1 2-pound (5.45 kg) (medium) butternut squash, peeled and seeds scooped out (or 4 cups store-bought prepared, diced butternut squash)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces (170 g) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, halved lengthwise and sliced
- ¼ cup finely sliced shallot or onion
- 1 cup (190 g) arborio rice
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
- 4 cups (1 l) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 small Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- 4-5 cups stemmed Lacinato Tuscan kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 (200C) degrees, with one oven rack in the center and one rack under it.
- Slice the squash into 1 1/2-inch chunks (if you’re not using already prepared squash). Arrange in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and grind black pepper over to taste. Scatter the bacon over the squash.
- Place a large oven-proof saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, stir in the leek and shallot or onion. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook another minute, stirring to coat the grains with the oil.
- Pour in the wine and let it bubble for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Add the stock, Parmesan rind (if you have one) and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Slide the sheet pan on the lower rack and the saute pan on the middle rack. Bake the rice and squash 30-35 minutes. To check if it's done, the rice should be very tender and not completely absorbed into the broth. The squash should be tender and the bacon rendered and deep brown.
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the squash and bacon to the risotto pan, leaving the excess fat behind. Sprinkle the kale and cheese over, and gently stir, folding into the risotto until everything is evenly mixed.
- Serve right away while it’s hot!