Fall Harvest Risotto with Candied Walnuts

This post is sponsored by California Walnuts. All opinions are my own.

Calling all cozy food fans. This one is for you! Think warm creamy risotto layered with roasted vegetables, parsley and topped with candied walnuts for a sweet and spicy finish.

Risotto is a family favorite around my home, When I was a kid my mom made a lot of casseroles. Her creamy rice based ones, were my always my favorite. Nowadays, I’m replicating or riffing on those favorites with better-for-you add-ins like the vegetables you see here.  I’ve also learned to swap out the rice of my childhood with fuller bodied rice like Arborio rice that makes risotto.

I’ll tell you what though, making risotto is not a favorite of anyone’s. I’m going to make a big assumption and say no one wants to stand and stir for 50 minutes straight.

Nope. Not doing it, right?

But I have news for us risotto lovers! I’ve found a new way to enjoy homemade risotto sans the tedious task of stirring  for long periods of time. Psssst . . . . Skip the stove top for the oven, which is a technique I picked up from David Tanis of NYT Cooking.

It starts by par-cooking the rice and then throwing it all into the oven. Alright, big assumption number two- if I can do it, you can do it. Yay to this because we now have a new way to make what we love!

Am I right? Let’s go with yes, yeah?

Let’s talk flavor. Since it’s the fall season, I’ve been cooking a lot of butternut squash. To layer on to that and give this butternut risotto more warmth, I added roasted brussels sprouts and radicchio. For added crunch and maximum flavor, I’m topping it with candied California Walnuts that have a sweet and spicy finish.


Fall Harvest Risotto | Real Food by Dad

The walnuts may seem like a small addition, but walnuts have a unique flavor and texture. These little flavor bombs are not to be skipped! Pro-tip: When making candied walnuts, make extra. They are excellent sprinkled on salads, on top of grain bowls and are perfect snacks for kids and adults.

If taste and versatility aren’t enough, walnuts on their own come packed with health benefits. They are a powerhouse of nutrients include protein (4g/oz), fiber (2g/oz), and are also a good source of magnesium (11% of Daily Value). All things that have led 30 years of research to show walnuts may benefit heart health, diabetes, cancer, cognition and weight management. I especially love that walnuts are the only nut to provide an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid or ALA (2.5g/oz.).

Makes you want to eat them by the handful now, right? Same. Stock up, friends, because California Walnuts store well when kept in the refrigerator for short term use and in the freezer for long term use.

Now that you have the low-down on this no-fuss oven-bake risotto, let’s do it!

Fall Harvest Risotto with Candied Walnuts

Fall Harvest Risotto with Candied Walnuts


  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (148 g/ 5oz) walnuts
  • 1 lb. arborio rice (2 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 1 radicchio head
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup leeks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta (not fat-free)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of parsley leaves


To make the candied walnuts:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients.
  2. Add walnuts and toss to coat.
  3. Pour walnuts onto a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Candied nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.

To make risotto:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In the meantime, par-cook the arborio rice.  
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rice and let simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Rinse the rice with cold water. Set aside.
  3. On a baking sheet, toss butternut squash, radicchio and brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Salt and pepper to preference. Set aside.
  4. In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat until pan sizzles when water is sprinkled on it. Add the onions, celery, and fennel.Cook and stir until soft and starting to brown. Add the thyme and season well with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute more.
  5. Add the par-cooked rice, chicken broth, parmesan, ricotta and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
  6. Transfer to the center rack of the oven to bake. Risotto is ready when rice is fork tender, about 25 minutes.
  7. Add the baking sheet of the vegetables on the top rack. Vegetables are ready when edges start to brown, about 35 minutes.
  8. To assemble: Fold the roasted vegetable and parsley into the rice. Plate and finish with candied walnuts on top. 



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4 comments to " Fall Harvest Risotto with Candied Walnuts "

  • Michael

    I’m making this right now, but I don’t think the Parmesan and ricotta made it to the ingredient listing. I’m winging it for this batch, but would love to know the intended proportions. Thanks!

    (Smells incredible, BTW!)

  • Mike_43215

    I think the Parmesan and ricotta may have been left off the ingredient listing.

  • Melissa

    this recipe sounds amazing, but i noticed that it says “1 cup leeks, chopped” in the ingredients list and those leeks don’t appear in the instructions. instead the instructions suddenly mention fennel, which in turn isn’t mentioned in the ingredients. so which one is correct? one cup leeks or one cup fennel?
    and can i substitute the radicchio with kale for example? i really don’t like radicchio.
    Thank you!

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