The days are getting shorter here in Switzerland, a sign that Autumn is in full swing. I spent Saturday in Annecy, France wandering around the farmers market and was excited to bring home my first squash of the season. And not just any old squash…butternut squash!
My sister and I have an obsession with butternut. It’s definitely a comfort food. I first got hooked on it when my sister was pregnant and it became her new favorite food. Instead of craving cookies or pickles she had intense squash cravings. For me that’s enough of a sign that this pale orange fruit (yes it’s a fruit, related to the pumpkin) must be full of good stuff.
I decided to do a little more investigating to learn the secrets of the butternut. Turns out he’s packed full of vitamins A, B6, C, folate and potassium. It’s also high in carotenoid antioxidants and healthy fiber. So it wasn’t just the sweet, nutty flavor and buttery texture she was craving but also the load of health benefits in butternut squash.
The hardest part was deciding what creation I wanted to make out of my first squash of the season. So many delectable options:
Butternut Squash Soup (always a household favorite)
Garlicky Oven Roasted Butternut (simple side dish)
Butternut Winter Salad (hmm not quite winter)
Butternut Squash Risotto (yes please!)
Decision made. I’m a huge risotto lover and this was my first time combining these two favorites. I started out with a basic parmesan risotto recipe (substituting the butter with olive oil) and decided to roast the butternut separately and then mix it in at the end. Roasting the butternut brings out it’s natural sweetness and it absorbs the flavors of whatever you’re roasting it with (in this case garlic).
Gotta brag….turned out fabulous!
Try out your risotto skills…
Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto Recipe
- 1 cup risotto rice (Arborio)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 small or half a large butternut squash
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4-5 sage leaves, chopped
- salt & black pepper
- Prepare the butternut for roasting. I like to slightly pre-cook the whole butternut to make it easier to peel and chop. Heat oven to 180 C/350 F. Slice butternut in half, scoop out seeds and place upside down on a slightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 10-15 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to be able to peel and chop into bite size pieces.
- Toss the butternut cubes on a cookie sheet with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and the minced garlic. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once soft and beginning to brown remove from the oven and set aside.
- Prepare your vegetable broth and leave it simmering on low heat.
- Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large, deep skillet (I use a wok) over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until it is coated evenly with oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the wine and stir until it evaporates.
- Begin to add the hot broth about ½ a cup at a time. Stir continuously and continue to add broth when it’s just about evaporated.
- After about 15 minutes of adding broth gently mix in the roasted butternut and sage, allow liquid to evaporate. Taste test the rice. It should be al dente, soft but with texture. At this point you’ll need to be the shrewd judge on whether or not your risotto needs a little more broth.
- When the rice is cooked to your liking, gently fold in the parmesan and a small pinch of nutmeg. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if needed. Once the parmesan melts into a creamy goodness serve immediately.
If you’re a first time risotto chef you might want to read a few additional tips on how to make risotto.
So here’s to the first of many butternuts of the season!