Friday, November 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto with Fried Sage

Yes. ANOTHER dish involving butternut squash, butter and cheese.

I've gone almost five days without any greens. It's sad, I know.

I'll probably go on a kale binge soon enough, but for now, all I'm craving is squash.

Risotto is one of those perfect dishes to enjoy on a nippy evening.  Comfort food to the max.

Best of all, you only dirty one pot.

You can throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand, based on the season.  I've used corn in the summer, asparagus and lemongrass in the spring and wild mushrooms whenever I can get my hands on them.  Traditionally risotto is made with arborio or carnaroli rice (arborio being less expensive and more readily available), a good stock/broth, a bit of wine and some high quality cheese.  Once you've got all of those in your possesion, you are good to go.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Fried Sage (serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side)

1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 c. arborio rice
6 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. dry white wine (I used sauvingon blanc)
4 T. butter, divided
1 T. fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 t. dried
1 c. grated pecorino romano
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
10 sage leaves
1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place peeled and cut squash in a large bowl, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, a heavy pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Place on a sheetpan and bake for 20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place your broth in a stockpot over medium heat. You want your broth to be warm when you add it to the rice.  The wine should be room temperature as well, so before you stash that bottle in the fridge, set a little aside first.

Heat 2 T. of the butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sautee for 3-4 minutes, until it softens and becomes translucent. Stir in your rice, and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly.  This step toasts the rice giving the final dish a pleasant nutty flavor. Add the wine and stir until all of the liquid evaporates. Begin adding your broth one ladle at a time, ocasionally stirring until most of the water evaporates.  Continue doing this until the rice becomes tender. When the reaches a desired consistency, add a bit more broth, remove from the heat and stir in the butternut squash, 3/4 c. pecorino, the remaining 2 T. butter, thyme, salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 T. olive oil. Add sage leaves and fry until they begin to crisp up. Drain on paper towels, then crumble the leaves into the risotto.

Serve with the remaining grated cheese and some fresh cracked pepper.
Don't forget to break out that bottle of white that you opened earlier..

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