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Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Watercress Pesto

With its golden and green hues, this quick and easy risotto is just perfect for the Autumn season! The stars of this dish are butternut squash and watercress, which are not only delicious and super colourful, but they are also rich in immune-boosting phytonutrients (like betacarotene) that will leave us glowing from the inside out!
Hands-On Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4



  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 600 g / 3 cups butternut squash cut into small, bite size cubes
  • 1 TBSP vegan butter / vegetable spread
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 350 g / 1¾ cups Arborio risotto rice
  • 1 litre / 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (broth)
  • 2 tsp white miso* [See Notes]

Watercress Pesto

  • 50 g / 1½ cups watercress
  • 60 g / ½ cup mixed nuts (I used walnuts and cashews)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil


  • 4 TBSP pumpkin seeds toasted
  • 30 g / ½ cup watercress leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper



  • Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan) / 400F.
  • Line a large roasting tin with non-stick baking paper. Tip the squash cubes into the tin, drizzle with 1 TBSP oil and stir through until the squash is fully coated. Roast for 30 minutes or so, stirring half way through the cooking time.
  • Meanwhile, gently heat 1 TBSP vegan butter in a large saucepan. Cook the diced onion for a couple of minutes, until it starts to soften. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
  • Add the risotto rice to the saucepan and stir through to coat the rice in the butter. Add the stock and miso, stir through and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the rice. Leave on low heat for another couple of minutes or so, until the rice is cooked through but firm to the bite and the excess liquid has evaporated.
  • When the squash is soft and starting to brown on the outside, remove from the oven. Mash half of it with a fork and stir into the risotto. Stir in the remaining squash cubes. Season with salt, to taste.
  • Divide the risotto between four warm bowls. Add some dollops of watercress pesto, a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds, some freshly ground black pepper and a few watercress leaves for garnish. You may not use all the pesto, but I recommend placing it in a pot on the dining table, as I’m sure people will want to go back for seconds!

Watercress Pesto

  • This can be prepared while the rice is cooking. In a small frying pan (skillet) gently fry the garlic in a tiny splash of the olive oil until it is fragrant and lightly browned.
  • Tip all the pesto ingredients into a food processor - the watercress, nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, oil and garlic. Whizz until you reach the desired consistency, stopping now and then to scrape down the sides. Add a splash of water, if needed, to loosen the pesto.

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Garnish

  • Once you have removed the garlic, add the pumpkin seeds to the frying pan and cook on medium heat, stirring regularly until they start to brown.


If you have any risotto left over, refrigerate it quickly (within an hour of it being cooked) and eat within 24 hours. Be sure to heat it through until piping hot. Any leftover pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. It is also delicious served as a topping for toast!
*  I used Miso Tasty Organic White Miso in this recipe. Since I don't use wine in my cooking, I find a little white miso adds some lovely 'umami' flavour to risotto.
Keyword Easy Vegan Meals, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based, Risotto, Vegan Dinners, Vegan Recipe