Savory oats are in, and so is fall weather! You’ll love how this Steel Cut Oat Risotto celebrates the flavors and colors of autumn squash and fresh herbs. This savory steel cut oats recipe is quicker and simpler to prepare than traditional risotto but still delivers creamy texture and delicious flavor.
Disclosure: This recipe and blog post were created in partnership with The Quaker Oats Company. I was compensated for my time. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Street Smart Nutrition!
I don’t know about you, but I’m already seeing posts with pumpkin spice everything and that’s great but…
Can we please talk about all the squashes?!
Yeah, pumpkin is technically a squash so that still counts but I’m currently loving any and everything autumn squash. Acorn and butternut squash have always been a couple of my favorites, going all the way back to when I was a little kid and my dad grew more than we could ever hope to eat from our home garden. Now, I like to source them from my local farmers market whenever I can and I snagged a couple of beauties recently.
Since I’m teaming up with Quaker to share delicious oat-based recipes this year, that served as the inspiration for this Steel Cut Oat Risotto with Herbs and Autumn Squash. Yep, you read that right! Risotto, which is traditionally made with arborio rice, can also be made with steel cut oats!
Health Benefits of Steel Cut Oats
While most of my oat recipes have focused on Old Fashioned oats, steel cut oats have unique cooking uses all their own. Earlier, I shared this graphic on Instagram to highlight some of the key differences and similarities between the most popular types of oats.
As you can see, the texture and size of steel cut oats is very different compared to the other two types, but ounce per ounce the deliver the same nutritionals! ! They can still be a nutritious blank canvas to inspire culinary creativity and that’s one thing I’ll always love about oats. I’ve had them hot and cold, sweet and savory, and for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be able to attend an event about upcoming nutrition trends in Chicago. There were some fascinating sessions about topics like gut health, bone health, savory flavor perceptions, and more. It was there that I first learned about steel cut oat risotto and I’ve been thinking about it ever since! It got me thinking: since most Americans fall short on both fiber and whole grain consumption, could I come up with a recipe that helps provide more of both?
Answer: Yup, I sure can!
How to Roast Acorn Squash
This steel cut oat risotto recipe is thick and creamy on it’s own, but adding roasted acorn squash creates an even smoother texture for the finished dish. I like the contrast of smooth, creamy texture with the firmer cubes of butternut squash wiithin this recipe, but if you have the time for this extra cooking step, I think it’s worth the effort!
Prepping and roasting an acorn squash takes a little skill, but it’s really no different than roasting other veggies. Since you’re dealing with a round, thick skinned vegetable, safety must come first. I recommend using a sharpened chefs knife because a dull knife is more likely to slip and slide off. Begin by removing a small section of the top (stem end) of the squash. This provides a flat surface when you turn the acorn squash upside down. From there, you can use the knife to slice the acorn squash in half much more easily.
After that, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes. Place the two halves facedown on a prepped baking sheet, then roast for about 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven. You might see some browning on the sides in contact with the baking sheet, but this is a good thing! It will impart some of that yummy roasted flavor into the final dish.
Once the acorn squash has baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. It should be soft to the touch, but if you’re using a larger acorn squash you may need to add some additional cooking time. Use a spoon to scrape the squash from the skin and roughly mash with a fork. This is what you’ll stir into the finished steel cut oat risotto, so just set it aside until you’re ready for it.
Steel Cut Oat Risotto with Herbs and Autumn Squash
This plant-based recipe is flexible enough to fit a variety of preferences. If you’d like a vegan version, omit the parmesan cheese or substitute your favorite plant-based cheese alternative. If you’d like to add protein, here are a few pairings that I recommend for these savory steel cut oats:
- Baked or roasted chicken thighs
- Grilled shrimp
- Pork tenderloin medallions
Once you learn how to master steel cut oat risotto, the flavor pairings are virtually endless! Summer and fall produce, combined with fresh or dried herbs, can provide the inspiration you need to come up with your own unique versions.
Here’s the recipe for Steel Cut Oat Risotto with Herbs and Autumn Squash
Steel Cut Oat Risotto with Herbs and Autumn Squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/4” cubes
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
- 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Place on a prepared baking sheet, face down, and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly while preparing other ingredients. Scoop the contents of the squash from the peel and roughly mash with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced butternut squash and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add the vegetable stock and oats. Season with salt and pepper, then bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat. Once the mixture is simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the texture becomes thick and creamy (approx. 10 minutes). Adjust heat accordingly to avoid burning.
- Remove from heat and stir in the mashed acorn squash, sage, thyme, allspice, and grated parmesan. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with additional herbs and parmesan if desired.
Love the savory oat trend? Click below to check out these other options that are sure to please your taste buds!