Sharer Nadine Salisch has an elegant and classic idea for everyone’s favorite winter squash. Adapted by Nadine from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters.
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound)*
- 24 fresh sage leaves (or to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 7-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 5_ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- _-1 cup dry white wine
- _ cup grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese, plus extra for garnish
- Peel squash, split in half and remove seeds and strings, then dice into small cubes. Put into a heavy-bottomed pot with a few of the sage leaves, a little salt, and 1 cup of stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender — 5-10 minutes.*
- Chop 6 sage leaves very fine. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and cook chopped sage for 1 minute. Add onion and cook until translucent — about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook 3 minutes over low heat, stirring, until rice turns slightly translucent. Turn up heat to medium-high, add wine, and stir until wine is absorbed. Reduce heat to medium-low, add enough stock to cover the rice, and stir. Continue cooking at a slight simmer, stirring gently but frequently, while slowly adding more stock in small amounts as the liquid is absorbed.
- While the rice is cooking, sauté remaining sage leaves in about 2 tablespoons of butter until crisp, then remove immediately using a slotted spoon and place on a towel to drain. Reserve the butter used to cook the sage and add it to the risotto at the end of the cooking time.
- When rice is almost done, add squash, the rest of the butter, and grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a little more stock if dish seems dry. Serve garnished with sautéed sage leaves. Serves 6-8.
*ANOTHER WAY TO COOK SQUASH: Split unpeeled squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and threads, rub squash inside and out with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and chopped sage leaves and bake in a 350 degree oven until tender — about 30 minutes. Then cut small cubes out of the cooked squash. (This also gives a nice caramelized flavor.)
TIP: This dish will only turn out creamy when stirred constantly, so put in some good muscle work!