Creamy risotto rice, chunks of acorn squash, and savory shiitake mushrooms, this one-pot camping dinner is a bowl full of fall comfort!
We can’t get enough squash! And in the fall, there are so many different varieties, each with its own unique character and flavor. Acorn, butternut, kabocha, delicata, the list goes on and on.
While many people think of squash in the context of a Thanksgiving side, we think it’s a great ingredient to take camping too! They’re virtually indestructible, don’t require any refrigeration, and can be used in so many dishes—like in this risotto!
This recipe features acorn squash, but it would also work well with kabocha or delicata squash. Most winter squash skin is technically edible, but some skins present more of a chewing obstacle they’re worth (we’re looking at you, butternut).
If you have a campfire, you can half the squash, roast it over the fire, and then scoop out the interior. But if a campfire is not possible, we wrote this recipe so it can be made in a single pot over a camp stove.
When combined with the creamy risotto rice and the umami-packed shiitakes, the nutty flavor of the acorn squash really stands out. This meal is everything we love about autumn camping, and we hope you give it a try!
Why We Love It:
- Embrace the season of squash!
- Can be prepared either on a stove or over a campfire
- Only a handful of the ingredients need to be in a cooler
Squash: We used acorn squash because it has soft, agreeable skin, a subtle nutty flavor, and can be found virtually everywhere. Kabocha or delicata are good substitutes. If you don’t like the skin, feel free to cut/peel it off.
Mushrooms: We keep going on and on about the squash, but the mushrooms are co-equal stars of this recipe too! Cremini or white mushrooms will work, but the flavor you get out of the shiitakes makes them so worth it.
Arborio Rice: Don’t go trying to make this recipe with normal old rice, you need special risotto rice – sold as Arborio rice. It has a super high starch content which will give this meal its rich creamy texture.
White Wine: This is the secret sauce to make this recipe super high-end. If we don’t really intend on drinking white wine, we will just fill a small mason jar from the big Trader Joe’s boxed wine kept in the kitchen for cooking with.
Butter: Doing all your sauteing in butter gives this recipe a rich, savory flavor. Want to make this whole meal vegan? Use Earth Balance’s plant-based butter.
Broth: We’d suggest using nice, robust vegetable broth like Pacific Foods.
Parmesan cheese: Use freshly grated if you can! To keep this meal vegan/vegetarian, use Violife’s Just Like Parmesan.
Camp stove with half-decent simmer control: Obviously you will need a stove, but you will want one with the ability to control the heat. Risotto needs to be gently simmered otherwise it will stick. Camp Chef, Eureka, and GasOne (pictured in this post) all make stoves with excellent simmer control.
Heavy bottomed pot: You want to avoid hot spots on the bottom of your pot that might cause your risotto to stick. We used a Stanley Even-Heat pot that has a beefy stainless steel bottom plate for even heat distribution. A Dutch oven would also work fairly well.
Tips for Making Risotto
- We left the skin on our squash. But if you don’t want to, you can go ahead and peel/cut it off.
- Similarly, if you have a campfire going, you can easily roast your squashes over the fire and scoop out the soft insides–eliminating the skin issue altogether.
- Do NOT rinse your rice! We have gotten in such a habit of rinsing our rice that it’s almost second nature, but you don’t want to rinse risotto rice. You want all that starchy goodness to make it creamy.
- Yes, you need to stir the risotto frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom, but you don’t need to be as obsessive about it as some Italian grandmothers would have you believe.
How to Make Squash Risotto with Mushrooms – Step By Step
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it has melted, add the shiitake mushrooms and salt. Cook until the mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes—resist the temptation to move them around too much. Add the remaining butter and the minced shallot. Saute 5 minutes more, until the shallot is soft and translucent.
Next, add the rice and stir to coat all the grains with the butter. Cook, stirring to keep the rice moving for a minute or two, until the rice is translucent at the ends. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed—this step really helps the rice start to release the starch which will add creaminess to the final dish. Once the bottom of the pan is dry, add two cups of broth, squash, bay leaf, and thyme.
Cover and cook at a low simmer, giving it a good stir every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom (this becomes more important as the liquid begins to absorb). Add more broth in ½ cup increments as the liquid is absorbed. If for some reason you run out of broth before the rice is done, you can use water. Cook for about 30 minutes total, until the rice and the squash are tender.
Add in the parmesan cheese and stir. Season with additional salt if needed. Remove from heat and serve with fresh parsley and cracked black pepper.
*Campfire preparation: Instead of cubing the squash and adding it to the rice with the broth, start a campfire or heat a grill. Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise and place it, cut side up, on the grill. Cook for about 20 minutes, then flip and cook for 10 minutes more, or until the squash is just fork tender. Scoop the grilled squash out of its skin and chop it into bite-sized chunks. Stir into the risotto along with the parmesan.
Acorn Squash & Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
- 1 small acorn squash, cut into ½” cubes* (see note for campfire cooking instructions)
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups broth, (1 qt)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoon thyme
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the shiitake mushrooms and salt. Saute until the mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the minced shallot. Saute 5 minutes more, until the shallot is soft and translucent.
- Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for a minute or two, until the rice is translucent at the ends. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed. Add two cups of broth, squash, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Cover and cook at a low simmer, giving it a good stir every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom (this becomes more important as the liquid begins to absorb). Add more broth in ½ cup increments as necessary as the liquid is absorbed. Cook for about 30 minutes total, until the rice and squash are tender.
- Add the parmesan cheese and stir. Season with additional salt if needed. Remove from heat and serve with fresh parsley and cracked black pepper.