The next time you need an idea for a dinner party, consider this elegant, silky, and creamy butternut squash risotto. It takes a bit of time and attention to prepare, but it’s worth the wait. It’s flavored with butternut squash purée, roasted butternut squash, and crispy sage leaves that also give a nice vibrant dash of earthy green.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from Rouxbe
For squash purée:
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into large (approximately 3/4″-inch) cubes
2 tablespoons non dairy butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
4 large sage leaves
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
sea salt, to taste
For roasted squash:
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into small dice (1/2″-inch cubes)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
For fried sage leaves:
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, rinsed and thoroughly dry
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onions, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup risotto rice (I used Arborio rice)
1/4 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make purée. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the squash, the whole garlic cloves and the sage leaves. Add the stock and season with salt. Bring the squash to a gentle simmer. Cover, loosely. Simmer gently until the squash is completely fork tender. When tender, remove and discard the sage leaves. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender (you may have to do this in batches) and purée until completely smooth. Taste and adjust for salt. Transfer to a small pot and keep warm. Set aside.
Roast squash. While waiting for the squash in the step above to cook, prepare and roast the rest of the squash. Toss with oil and season to taste with salt. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the tray and set aside.
Fry the sage leaves, place the oil into a small fry pan or pot and heat over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, lower the leaves into the oil and fry the sage leaves for about 5 to 10 seconds or just until they become even in color. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Set aside.
Make the risotto. Combine vegetable stock, water and salt (if needed) in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and keep hot. Keep in mind that more or less liquid may be needed to cook this dish. It’s always better to have too much than not enough.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium to medium-low heat.
Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Next, add 1/4 cup of the hot cooking liquid (stock/water) to soften the onions further. Let the cooking liquid completely evaporate before moving onto the next step.
Once the liquid has completely evaporated, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the rice all at once. Stir to coat the rice and toast until the ends of the grains are translucent, about a 3-5 minutes. Once toasted, add the garlic and cook, stirring just until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the wine and stir with rice until the wine evaporates.
Once the wine has evaporated, add one cup of the hot cooking liquid. Stir often to coax the starches out of the rice. Once almost absorbed, add 1 to 2 cups of the warm butternut squash purée and continue to stir. Once the purée thickens and reduces, go back to adding the hot cooking liquid. Add the next cup of liquid only when the last cup has been absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently. During the cooking process, make sure to adjust the heat so the liquid is always gently boiling.
Continue to add liquid and cook the risotto until it reaches the al dente stage (or until it is done to your liking). Start tasting the rice for doneness around the 15 minute mark.
Any leftover butternut squash purée can be frozen and used another time.
Once the risotto has been cooked to your liking, taste it for seasoning. Fold in the roasted butternut squash. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Just before serving, if necessary, add a bit of hot liquid to loosen the consistency. Serve and top with fried sage leaves.
Variation: If you’d like, you can add up to two cups of arugula towards the end, when you add the roasted squash to the risotto.