Easy butternut squash & kale risotto with cheesy almond parmesan

Easy Vegan Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto with Cheesy Almond Parmesan | A Dash of Compassion

Since the weather in southern Ontario has kept well below zero degrees these last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending a lot more time indoors. My usual weekend running routine has gone by the wayside in favour of indoor HIIT workouts, if only to avoid the frigid temperatures beyond my front door.

Don’t get me wrong though. I usually love bundling up for a run on a cold winter day—I don’t get overheated and the feeling of a long, hot shower afterwards can’t be beat—but on days that are -15°C with a windchill? No thanks.

By the time I’m finished working out, showering and then pulling on my comfies, I’m usually starving and ready to get dinner started, and that means hunkering down with winter comfort foods like hearty chili, creamy casseroles, and warming soups and stews.

Or this quick and easy butternut squash and kale risotto with cheesy almond parmesan. Yes, please.

Easy Vegan Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto with Cheesy Almond Parmesan | A Dash of Compassion

If you’re looking for something warm and cozy for dinner tonight, look no further. This creamy vegan risotto dish is full of flavour and can be on the table in less than an hour. Topped with almond parmesan, it’s one of the most satisfying meals I’ve made in a while.

When most people think of risotto, they often think of cheese and butter and the laborious stove-top stirring, requiring up to an hour to achieve that perfect consistency. Dairy is by no means necessary for a creamy risotto, and this simpler, more hands-off baked version is proof.

Easy  Vegan Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto with Cheesy Almond Parmesan | A Dash of Compassion

The result consists of soft, tender grains of Arborio rice that become thick and creamy when baked with the cubes of butternut squash and chopped kale. Traditional chefs and Italians around the world would likely turn their nose up at the fact that I made this dish without wine (and cheese! and butter!). If you’re keen, feel free to sub the 1/2 cup vegetable broth in Step 6 for a dry white wine.

It may be an unorthodox way to prepare such a traditional dish, but it works. You have to do some cooking before putting the dish in the oven, but then you’re free to prep the almond parmesan topping, make a salad and set the table while it bakes.

This dish is truly winter comfort food. Enjoy!

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Easy butternut squash & kale risotto with cheesy almond parmesan

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


For the risotto:

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • 4½ cups vegetable broth, divided

For the almond parmesan:

  • 2 tbsp raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt


To make the risotto:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel the butternut squash and cut into small cubes. Set aside.
  3. Wash the kale and remove tough stems. Chop into small strips and set aside.
  4. In a large oven-proof pot or dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the thyme and black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add rice and ½ cup of broth and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add remaining broth and the prepared squash. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the prepared kale.
  8. Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until rice and squash are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with almond parmesan and serve!

To make the almond parmesan:

  1. Place all ingredients in a spice grinder or dry blender and pulse until powdered.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.



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