Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s Sweet and Spicy Risotto Recipe Is Hearty and Delicious

Ina Garten has upped the delicious factor of ordinary risotto with the addition of oven-roasted butternut squash. The Barefoot Contessa star’s easy saffron risotto with butternut squash gets a flavorful kick from saffron and sweetness from the caramelized squash.

Ina Garten wears a blue shirt and holds a cocktail during 'Seth Goes Day Drinking with Ina Garten' on Late Night With Seth Meyers
Ina Garten | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten puts a delicious spin on classic risotto

Garten demonstrated how to make the saffron risotto with butternut squash during an episode of Barefoot Contessa. “Butternut squash is the perfect thing for risotto with saffron. The saffron’s really spicy and the butternut squash is really sweet.”

Garten recommended using a sharp peeler for removing the squash skin. “This is the quickest way, I find, to peel it,” she explained. Then she cut the squash in half and sliced the end off, stood it on its end and cut it in half.

“You can boil this — but instead I’m going to actually roast it,” she explained. “I think it really brings out the sweetness — sort of caramelizes it a little bit.”

After dicing the squash into pieces, Garten placed them on a sheet pan, drizzled the squash with olive oil, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. The Barefoot Contessa star tossed the squash with the oil, salt, and pepper and roasted it in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Garten then poured chicken stock into a pan to heat it. Meanwhile, she diced pancetta into pieces, explaining, “It gives great flavor to risotto.” She placed the pancetta in a pan with butter, shallots, Arborio rice, and white wine.

“Now this is the key to good risotto,” she said. “You want to add chicken stock by the ladle-full, two ladles at a time. If you add it too fast, the risotto cooks on the outside and not on the inside. If you add it too slowly, it gets mushy.”

Then Garten added “the key ingredient” to the pot — saffron. “It’s spicy. It’s the stamens of crocuses, which is why it’s so expensive,” she explained. The Food Network host noted that the rice takes about 25 minutes to cook, sharing, “As the stock is absorbed into the rice, you just want to add another few ladles full.”

After the risotto was completely cooked, Garten added the roasted butternut squash pieces, then sprinkled grated parmesan over the dish. “This is the most delicious lunch, all in one pot,” she said.

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.


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Ina Garten developed an easier risotto recipe

Traditional risotto takes some time and attention, something that Garten said is “annoying,” so she found a way to make the whole process more hands-off. She demonstrated her parmesan risotto recipe on an episode of Barefoot Contessa.

“You know when people say they like to come home and make risotto and stir it. They find it relaxing? I think, ‘No they don’t, it’s just annoying!,” Garten said. “So I thought, ‘I’m going to do this differently, I’m going to see if I can make it in the oven.’ And you know what? It’s fantastic.”

Garten combined rice and chicken stock in a pot, stirred it, and covered it. Then she baked the risotto in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes.

She removed the pan from the oven, added more chicken stock, parmesan cheese, white wine, and butter, and stirred the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes. Finally, she added frozen peas, salt, and pepper, and stirred it until the risotto was heated through.

You can find the recipe on The Food Network website.