Fall has definitely arrived in Chicago. I think it might be my favorite season. Although it starts getting dark earlier, I love the crisp air and watching the leaves change color. When it started getting cold this week, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Squash Risotto with Sage. I originally tried this dish when I went to a demo entitled “You Don’t Know Squash” at The Chopping Block here in Chicago. Watching this dish being made helped me overcome my fear of cooking risotto myself. Risotto can be intimidating and many people are afraid of making it. I’m not gonna say it’s completely easy and risotto isn’t something you can really leave unattended while you’re making it. However, not being so afraid of it and preparing it according to this recipe can help anyone make a delicious and flavorful risotto. Plus, the ingredients in this are quintessentially fall—I love it!
Squash Risotto with Sage
Adapted from The Chopping Block
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine/sherry (I’ve only ever used white wine with this recipe because it’s something I have on hand more often)
4-6 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 pounds squash, roasted at 375°F until tender, peeled and diced (I use butternut squash with this recipe)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best)
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Your first step should be peeling and cubing the squash. Toss it in some olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast it for about 25 minutes or until tender.
Pour vegetable stock into a large pan and warm on low heat. This will gradually warm the stock so it is ready for you to add to the risotto when the time comes.
Heat a large wide pan over medium heat and add olive oil to coat. Gently sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the rice and sauté for one minute. Then add the wine and stir over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated.
Add the warm stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition, adding the next ladleful only after the previous one is completely absorbed. I like to use an actual measuring cup for adding the liquid because I like being a little more precise about this.
Continue until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes. I usually set a timer right after I add my first ladleful because it gives me a better sense of how long 18 minutes is and how many ladlefuls I should be getting in over this span of time.
Stir in the cheese, sage, then season again with salt and pepper to taste. Add the butter. I’ve also added 1/4 cup heavy cream before and, of course, it was delicious. The dairy added at the end is optional, but I would recommend adding the cheese at bare minimum. Finally, add the squash.
There’s no exact science to this, but I hope some of the tips I’ve given can help you create a scrumptious risotto for fall.