Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil Pesto

I continue to be inspired by the Instant Pot. Yes, it does make beans in a flash like these Pinto Beans and Black Beans, but it is very versatile. I have even seen pasta made in the Instant Pot.

So this beautiful spring dish of Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil Pesto was a natural for the Instant Pot. Don’t feel like cutting the squash up? Some markets sell it pre-cut into cubes! Just get about 20 oz worth and that should do the trick and make your life easier.

This is a great dish to serve for a spring celebration and making it in the Instant Pot frees you up to concentrate on the other dishes in your meal.

Don’t miss my new green soup made with asparagus, peas, and zucchini. It’s super delicious made with lite coconut milk, but you can you non-dairy milk if you prefer.

For the recipe, you just throw the ingredients into the pot and saute them a little before turning it on. Although if you don’t have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, I’ve included stovetop/oven directions below the recipe in the Notes section. And, while it’s cooking, you can make the basil pesto in the food processor.

Because we’re not using any cheese in this dish as most risottos do, I think it’s super important to have this basil pesto topping. It has just the punch of flavor you want to complement the creamy somewhat neutral flavor of the risotto. I like to make extra pesto and to save for other meals.

This basil pesto is awesome made into a dressing by adding a little fresh orange juice. The orange juice really complements the basil.

In fact, you could make a salad to go on the side with the risotto and top it with this Orange Basil Dressing. How about my Arugula, Apple, Beet Salad or Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad.

As a side note in case you’re wondering, I’ve never made with this with brown rice or regular white rice. To get that creamy texture of risotto, arborio rice is the best but if you try it with a different rice, let me know how it goes.

This Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil Pesto has all the wonderful plant-based nutrition you need, as well. With the addition of spinach for your greens,  the beautiful orange squash, and medicinal mushrooms you’re getting a healthy dose of nutrition in this meal.

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below for this Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil Pesto Recipe! If you have a photo, post it on my Instagram page, tag me using the hashtag #plantbasedcooking in your caption, and I won’t miss it!

Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil PestoTopped with a dollop of basil pesto, this dish is delish! Use store-bought cut-up butternut squash for an easy weekday dinner or an elegant dinner party.

 Prep Time30 minutes Cook Time6 minutes Servings people


  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 Tbl garlic crushed
  • 4 cups butternut squash peeled, seeded and large diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or 4 cups homemade)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional but adds a great flavor. Add more water if you don’t use it.)
  • 1 8 oz package Baby Bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 5 oz bag baby spinach
Basil Pesto1 1/2 cups fresh basil tightly packed1/2 cup fresh parsley tightly packed3 cloves garlic1 Tbl light miso3 Tbl nutritional yeast1/8 cup toasted pine nuts2 Tbl fresh lemon juice2-4 Tbl water more or less depending on desired consistency


  1. Add 1/4 cup water to the Instant Post. Hit “Sauté.” Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes so it softens and just lightly browns when the water runs out. Then, add the butternut squash and stir with the onions for another 1-2 minutes. The squash will still be very hard but will soften.
  2. Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for another minute. Finally, add the garlic, stir with everything else and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and once it bubbles, let it do so for another 2 minutes so some of the alcohol burns off.
  4. Add in the rice and mix it in with everything in the pot.
  5. Add the broth, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, Italian seasoning and dried parsley. Stir well, deglazing (scraping) the bottom of the pot and then place the spinach on top (but do NOT mix in with everything else – just let it rest on top.)
  6. Secure the lid, hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” and High Pressure for 6 minutes. Use the quick release when done and stir the spinach in with the risotto.
  7. Make the basil pesto and serve with a dollop.

Basil Pesto

  1. Blend basil, parsley, garlic, miso, nutritional yeast, pine nuts and lemon juice in food processor.
  2. Slowly drizzle in water while machine is running to desired consistency.


*Stovetop/Oven Directions:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Place the rice with 4 cups of the vegetable stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, along with the seasonings. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place the onions, squash and the sliced mushrooms (keep them separate) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes along with the rice. If you need to, use 2 baking sheets, but you may not have room for two and therefore, need to roast them separately from the rice. Remove the onions, squash, and mushrooms when the squash is tender.
  3. Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash with a fork. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is al dente, remove from the oven and place over medium heat. Add an extra 1 cup vegetable broth (not in the Instant Pot version), the spinach, the wine, salt, and pepper, and stir until the rice is thick and creamy and the spinach is wilted. (Another option is to cook the rice with the wine instead of adding it later.)
  4. Add the onions and butternut squash and stir again to heat through about 2-3 minutes.

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