Steel-Cut Oat “Risotto” with Butternut Squash and Kale

Oats in the risotto? If I were you, I’d be dubious, but let me tell you that I’m pleasantly delighted by how much I enjoy this risotto twist. Traditional risotto takes a lot of time, is rich and tasty, but it doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of nutrients.

Brown rice and a ton of vegetables are used in a baked version that I’ve learned to make, but it still takes a little too long to create for a quick weeknight supper.

Here comes the steel-cut oat risotto! Also known as, a different use for the steel-cut oats you have in your pantry besides making steel-cut oatmeal. Steel-cut oats cook up lovely and creamy, similar to arborio rice.

Steel-cut oats cook quickly—about 25 minutes on the stove—unlike brown arborio rice, which takes longer. This risotto will fill you up because steel-cut oats are a wonderful source of fiber and are 100% whole grain.

This is my second and last recipe for the More Taste, Less Waste campaign from Quaker, which was started in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation. In order to help you explore ways to eat more nutritiously every day and assist in reducing food waste, the idea is to combine fall produce that frequently languishes away unused with oats, which are probably already in your pantry.

Also read: Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Your excess fall produce is the ideal candidate for this adaptable risotto recipe. Here, I combined kale and butternut squash, but chard, spinach, or collard greens would work just as well. Use carrots or sweet potatoes in place of butternut squash!

Visit Quaker’s More Taste, Less Waste Pinterest board for more recipe ideas, or contribute your own using the hashtag #JustAddOats.

Don’t miss my kale, apple, and goat cheese salad with granola “croutons” for another adaptable oats dish. As always, if you try this dish, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Also read: Sweet Potato, Kale and Chickpea Soup


  • Olive oil, extra virgin, two tablespoons
  • 1 chopped medium red onion
  • Peeled and sliced into 12″ pieces, 1 small (2 pounds) butternut squash or 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided; add more as desired.
  • Red pepper flakes with a pinch
  • 4 minced or pressed garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ cups Steel-Cut Quaker Oats
  • 12 bunch or 2 packed cups of chopped, rib-free kale
  • 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 34 cup (or 34 cup) new Parmesan cheese grating
  • Butter, two tablespoons
  • one teaspoon of lemon juice
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to taste


  1. Warm the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or soup pot until it shimmers. Add the onion, butternut, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. About 8 to 10 minutes, or when the butternut is mostly soft, cook, turning frequently, until the onion is transparent.
  2. Stir in the garlic after adding it. Oats and kale should be added, and they should be cooked for about two minutes while frequently stirring. Add the wine and scrape off any browned bits that have accumulated on the pan’s bottom with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Cook for an additional one to two minutes while stirring.
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the water. Stirring occasionally, turn the heat to high and simmer the mixture. Once the mixture begins to simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring periodically, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the mixture is very creamy and thick (see photographs). To avoid scorching the bottom, you might need to stir more frequently as time goes on and lower the heat.
  4. Stir in the Parmesan, butter, lemon juice, and several grinds of black pepper after turning off the stove. Before serving, give the risotto five minutes to rest. Add plenty of more salt (I generally add at least 14 tsp) and black pepper once you’re ready to serve. If you think it needs more flavor, put in some extra lemon juice. After dividing, serve in bowls.


MAKE IT VEGAN: Omit the Parmesan altogether or replace it with cashew sour cream. Omit the butter altogether or stir in some extra-virgin olive oil for extra richness.

*WINE NOTE: Choose a dry, unoaked white wine, such as sauvignon blanc. If you don’t want to include alcohol in your risotto, simply omit it (no substitutions required).

PARMESAN NOTE: Vegetarian Parmesans do exist—look for the animal rennet-free varieties. There’s plenty of flavor in here without the Parmesan, if you’d rather leave it out.