How to Make Baked Butternut Squash Risotto: An Unexpected Favorite of the Picky Toddler

By: Melanie

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was truly a devourer of literature. I mean, really, I practically ate books for breakfast. Though I still make time to do plenty of reading for me, I can’t lie: with 1 1/2 year old twins, much of my reading now fits in to one of two genres: parenting or children’s books.

Just as you would expect, my strange rules (strange, but totally grounded in reason and the soundest of logic) about what books I read with adoration and what books I refute, most certainly extends to these genres. (And just a few blogs ago I attempted to argue that I had overcome my snobby ways!)

For example, while pregnant, I refused to so much as crack a copy of What to Expect While you’re Expecting. Why? Because isn’t that handbook…well…all too expected? It just seemed a bit cliché for the first-time mother. This doesn’t, of course, mean that I haven’t read What to Expect the First Year cover to cover. Because I have!

As I am also midway through What to Expect: The Toddler Years, I’m relieved to learn that my boys’ pickiness in all things, especially food, is totally normal given their age. The book suggests it’s a way for toddlers to assert their new sense of independence and something they should outgrow with time.

While my twins, Owen and Dylan, may be expressing their individuality by refusing to eat what I serve, I am also willing to admit that it’s possible they have inherited their pickiness from me (though my husband is notoriously stubborn as well, so we’ll call it a draw).  Dinnertime is always the worst; nearly everything I serve is quickly flung to the floor (or passed back and forth between their trays until it inevitably falls).

It seems there is no pleasing these kids. We’ve tried all the classic techniques to get them to eat: “Don’t you boys know there are starving orphans who would kill for this food!” Fail.

“Look Owen, your fork is plane!” *insert totally realistic engine noises here* Fail.

“Okay, Dylan, show me how the piggies eat!” Okay, not a total fail, but definitely not a long term solution.

I finally came to the conclusion that if they were really and truly hungry, they’d eat. And with this liberating new mindset, I’ve stopped stressing cold turkey. I mean it. No, really. Sure, my children may never eat, but at least my dog’s happier than ever. And, in the meantime, I’ve actually found a couple of healthy meals that the boys will actually eat (they will not only chew these foods, but swallow them too! A true victory in the Simpson house!)

Their most recent favorite is butternut squash risotto.  Owen and Dylan gobbled it down for dinner, and even ate it left over for lunch the next day. That never happens. Not only does this dish meet the approval of our toddlers’ discerning pallets…I think it’s incredibly delicious as well. We served it with homemade bread and green beans for a perfect fall meal.


Baked Butternut Squash Risotto


  •  2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and pureed (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. . Heat olive oil in a large skillet or oven-proof Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in rice and wine; cook for 2 minutes or until wine evaporates, stirring constantly. Add broth and squash to pan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  4.  Remove rice mixture from heat; stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.
  5. Transfer to a casserole dish or bake directly in dutch oven. Cover and bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Stir gently before serving.

About melanieandchristy

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This entry was posted in Books, Easy preparation, Italian Food, Vegetarian, What to Expect When You're Expecting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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