Rumor has it that when I was a baby I ate so much squash that my skin turned orange. Not much has changed in 28 years. I would totally be willing to look like an oompa loompa in exchange for daily doses of butternut squash, I absolutely love it! I know I said I wasn’t cooking anything healthy until November 1st but I figured I better remind my brain and taste buds how to make and eat healthy food so I don’t go into shock next week.  Enjoy this delicious tribute to fall’s finest fruit. (Yes, squash is a fruit – google it)


  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Non-stick Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Madeira wine or sweet Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 4 ounces chopped pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
  • 2/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cubed or shredded (I used cheddar/jack mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I forgot to buy pine nuts so I used toasted pecans)
  • Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 475°.

2. Place squash on a nonstick pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes or until tender, turning after 10 minutes.

3. Once squash is done, remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°.

4. Combine the chicken broth, water, wine, and tarragon in a saucepan; bring to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

5. Cook pancetta in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Discard the pan drippings (I was tempted to skip this step but stayed strong and did it)

6. Add the olive oil and onion to the pan and sauté 10 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add the arborio rice to pan and sauté 1 minute.

7. Slowly stir in the broth mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

8. Place the pan in oven; bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir in the squash, pancetta, cheese, salt, and pepper. (Remember the pan is VERY hot!)

9. Cover with a clean cloth and let stand 10 minutes as the rice continues to cook. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.


Source: Adapted from