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
  1. 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.*
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!