As you may have guessed by now, I love pumpkins. (If I had my own car, I’d have an “I brake for pumpkins” bumper sticker, for sure.) So it’s probably no surprise that butternut squash gets me batting my eyelashes pretty furiously as well. Butternut and pumpkin perform slightly differently, but these favored sisters of the cucurbita family have a lot in common–butternut’s a little sweeter, but both are sweet and earthy, with a melting yet toothy texture. And they’re both so versatile, slipping from sweet dessert to savory entree as deftly as a stage actress maneuvers a quick costume change. As much as I love butternut squash in sweet applications (butternut cheesecake, gulp), this recipe for risotto takes the cake, so to speak–there’s just something about savory butternut and sage. You can roast the squash first for more complex flavor–but I like this method because the butternut flavor infuses the rice so nicely. (Easier, too.) Although there is little added fat, the result is rich and creamy.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (optional: save seeds to roast for garnish–see note)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth, heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and a bit for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, and a bit for garnish
1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt olive oil over medium heat. Add squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1/2 cup hot broth. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed and then add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more–this should take about 35 to 40 minutes total.
4. Stir in Parmesan, sage, and salt to season. Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and sage.
NOTE: you can roast the seeds by following these directions for slow-roasted pumpkin seeds. Use for an additional garnish–yum.