Tapioca pearl butternut risotto

I had all kinds of things planned for the weekend but again I got side tracked by an ingredient I have never cooked with or knowingly eaten before, tapioca pearls. It was sitting on the shelf looking very interesting. I knew I would have to buy it and make something out of it. Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava root. It can apparently have different colours but this was white as snow.


I knew I wanted to make a savoury dish, and that I wanted the dish to be mainly white. I soaked the pearls for about 1½ hours before cooking them. This gave me some time to think about what to actually make with them! I could find lots of recipes for desserts and smoothies, one was a pudding so I decided to make a risotto. I sometimes make risotto from pearl barley, it doesn’t have to be rice and I thought this would be interesting. I didn’t want to make lots as I wasn’t sure so it was only enough for a starter for two but it can easily be doubled or more if needed.

I had made a stock and simmered a head of garlic and an onion. It had been simmering for about an hour, if you din’t have this long you can use fresh and just cook soft in water beforehand but then use less. I peeled and chopped the onion and peeled and mashed the garlic. It looks like a lot of garlic but cooked like this it becomes very mellow and has a much softer flavour.


Tapioca pearl butternut squash risotto 

Preparation time 10 minutes (+ 1½ hour to soak the tapioca pearls) 

Cooking time 30-35 minutes 

Serves 2 as a starter


  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup of dry tapioca pearls to soak
  • 3 1/2 dl or 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 small piece of butternut squash
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 handful raw, un salted cashew nuts
  • zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 spring onion
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Finely chop the onion and chilli (seeds removed), mash the garlic or crush 1/2 fresh garlic clove and slice the spring onion. Peel and cut the butternut squash in to small cubes. Give the cashew nuts a chop, they don’t add so much flavour as texture to the dish.

Place the tapioca, the coconut milk, the garlic, the butternut squash, the onion and the chilli in a pan and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and stir gently whilst cooking, taste with salt and white pepper. When the tapioca is soft, the butternut cooked and the dish has come together to a risotto consistency grate over the zest of the lemon and let cook through. Take the risotto of the heat and add the coriander and the spring onion. Taste one last time and add more salt or pepper if needed before serving.


We really enjoyed the risotto. Cooking with tapioca is a bit like cooking with a blank canvas, it doesn’t have a lot of flavour on it’s own but it goes with pretty much anything, sweet or savoury. I did like the risotto, it was so creamy and it didn’t need any cheese at all and we didn’t even notice when we ate it.

I have added this to Karen’s challenge Cooking with Herbs that she hosts on her great blog Lavender and Lovage.


11 Responses to “Tapioca pearl butternut risotto”
  1. Your dish looks delicious and so beautiful! I’ve had plenty of risotto dishes, but none with tapioca pearls! Will have to try this soon!

    • petra08 says:

      Hi Ada

      I think it really worked, the tapioca really took on board all the flavours and a little of the pearls goes such a long way! 🙂

  2. This is really intriguing. I have had tapioca as pudding but never as a risotto! Great idea.

  3. Karen says:

    What a PRETTY dish Petra! I had my first savoury tapioca pearls in SW France about 2 years ago….and this recipe is just amazing! THANKS for linking it up to cooking with herbs, Karen

    • petra08 says:

      hi Karen

      thank you 🙂 I am glad you like it. Tapioca pearls are so great and works so well for savoury dishes as well as sweet 🙂

  4. I have to say tapioca conquers up the horrors of a milk pudding in school, have never thought to cook a main course with it, need to try this, thanks for sharing.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Elaine

      Thank you for your comment 🙂
      ha ha you are right! I hope you like it, I am sure yours will be delicious!

  5. shaheen says:

    I don’t recall ever having tapioca in a savoury dish, so your risotto interests me, may just be tempted to give it a go.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] 15. TAPIOCA PEARL BUTTERNUT RISOTTO by Petra of Food, Eat, Love: Such a pretty recipe and Petra makes this risotto sing with coriander, as well as using tapioca. […]

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