Risotto is one of my go-to-quick-and-easy meals. Ten years ago, I never would have thought I’d be calling risotto a quick-and-easy meal, but here we are. I used to be completely intimidated by risotto. All that stirring and care that needs to be taken in order to get the perfect tender grain. With anything in life, practice makes perfect. You will never completely mess up a risotto, as long as you don’t end up with a hard undercooked grain. I can’t even count how many times I’ve ordered risotto from a restaurant and it has come out hard and crunchy, which is completely unacceptable.
Risotto takes time and patience. A lot of stirring and ladling broth. Also, good quality ingredients - butter, parmesan, arborio rice. It’s sort of similar to making pasta. Once you have mastered the foundation, you can start experimenting and adding new ingredients and flavors. There are countless combinations of flavors you can experiment with. One of my favorites is butternut squash and sage. These two flavors are so complimentary. I like to roast the butternut squash to add a soft texture and caramel taste. It’s also a lot easier than trying to hack away, chopping a raw butternut squash. Fried sage leaves are pure magic. So delicious and crispy. And of course, I always finish my risotto with a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO WITH FRIED SAGE
prep time - 10 minutes
cooking time - 80 minutes
1/2 butternut squash
1 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp chopped sage
1 1/4 cups of dry arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups of broth
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp canola or olive oil
15 sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Place one half on a baking sheet flesh side down and save the other half for another day. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the squash for 40 - 50 minutes, until it is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the butternut squash from the skin and chop it into bite size pieces. Set to the side. Discard the skin.
In a large frying pan or dutch oven heat the butter on medium high.
Add the diced onion and chopped sage and fry until the onion is translucent.
Add the arborio rice and fry for a minute or two until you hear the rice start to pop.
Add the roasted butternut squash.
Add the white wine and stir continuously until the wine has absorbed.
Add a ladle of broth at a time and stir continuously until the broth has absorbed. Continue in this manner until all of the broth has been used or you have reached a desired texture, soft and tender.
Add the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
In a small fry pan heat the oil on high. Once hot, add half of the sage leaves to the pan and fry for 1 - 2 seconds. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Place them onto a paper towel.
Garnish the risotto with fried sage leaves.