Rich, creamy risotto that’s better for you and easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner? Yes, please! My lightened up version uses quick cooking orzo plus sweet roasted butternut squash for a wonderful flavor boost. This dish is satisfying on its own or makes an excellent side, too.

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Butternut Squash Orzo Risotto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Course: Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 4 servings
  • 2 cups butternut squash cubed into 1/2-3/4" pieces
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 cup chicken broth low sodium, fat free
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 TB half and half
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray a small baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Toss squash with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and spread in a single layer on sheet.
  2. Roast for 20-25 minutes (stirring halfway through), until tender and lightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo and stir constantly until it begins to smell toasty (approximately 3 minutes).
  4. Add chicken broth, water, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for approximately 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, until liquid is nearly absorbed.
  5. Remove thyme sprigs, stir in half and half, cheese, and roasted squash. Season well with salt and pepper, and serve.

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