Saturday, November 5, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Sage Leaves

Risotto is one of my little indulgences. The kids have only recently decided that they like rice, and they are still very particular about which rice dishes they find acceptable. My quinoa and rice pilaf is at the very top of their list, but risotto is my favorite.

Risotto is more of a technique than a dish, and it is open to an almost infinite variety of combinations. The first risotto I ever had was a spinach risotto with toasted pine nuts, and my standard is a wild mushroom risotto with pancetta and thyme.

I came across this recipe from Williams Sonoma and knew that had to make a variation of it. I love the combination of butternut squash and sage, and I thought that the addition of the sweet, sticky caramelized onions would be a lovely addition to the creaminess of the risotto.

It was.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Sage Leaves

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  •  4 tablespoons of butter
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • ¼ cup Carnarole rice or another suitable risotto rice like Arborio or Vialone Nano
  • ¼ cup sherry or white wine
  • 1 quart warm stock
  • ¼ cup roasted butternut squash, cubed
  • ¼ cup roasted butternut squash, pureed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • whole fresh sage leaves


  1.  Make the caramelized onions by cooking down the thinly sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat for an hour or until the are richly browned and sticky. Stir frequently to be sure that they don't stick and burn. Set aside.
  2. Make the crispy sage leaves by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and sauteing the leaves until crispy. Set aside.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and saute the shallot until soft, then add the rice, stirring until everything is nicely coated. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the sherry or wine and cook, stirring frequently, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Start adding the warm stock 1 ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, and continue to cook until the rice is done al dente - it will still have some bite to it, but not be chalky or crunchy. The grains of rice should have lost the white opaque center. This could take 10 minutes or up to 20 minutes depending on hte type of rice. Taste as you go.
  6. Add your salt and pepper and stir in the caramelized onions and grated parm. Stir well.
  7. Serve topped with crispy sage leaves.


  • I made a few changes from the original recipe because I wanted both pureed squash and cubes of squash for a little textural contrast, and I used sherry instead of white wine because that's what I had on hand.

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