Sunflower Seed "Risotto" with Squash and Mushrooms


    • 4 cups raw sunflower seeds
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
    • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
    • 6 thyme sprigs, divided, plus more for serving
    • 2 cups vegetable broth
    • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
    • 3 cups 1/2" cubed butternut squash (about 1 pound squash)
    • 3 1/2 ounces shiitake or cremini mushrooms, trimmed, coarsely chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more


  1. Place sunflower seeds in a medium, wide, heavy pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente, 45–55 minutes.
  2. Strain seeds through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Transfer 1 cup cooking liquid and 1 cup seeds to a blender; reserve remaining seeds and discard remaining liquid. Add cream and 2/3 cup Parmesan and blend until very smooth.
  3. Wipe out pot. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in pot over medium. Add onion, half of garlic, and 4 thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and onion begins to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add reserved sunflower seeds and cook until seeds are toasted, about 1 minute. Add broth and wine and simmer over medium heat until liquid is almost fully reduced and seeds are tender, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, 5–7 minutes. Add mushrooms, 2 thyme sprigs, and remaining garlic and 1 Tbsp. oil and continue cooking until mushrooms and squash are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and transfer to a plate.
  5. When broth is almost completely evaporated, add blended seed mixture and cook until sauce thickens, 5-8 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and stir in 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper; taste and adjust seasonings. Divide "risotto" among bowls and top with sautéed vegetables, Parmesan, pepper, and thyme sprigs.

Recipe courtesy of