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Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage

What a beautiful fall weekend it's been.  My oldest son came home from college to watch Northwestern play Michigan State here. Of course, I've been cooking all of his favorites - ribs, stuffed potatoes, chocolate molten cakes with meringue - and got the fun last minute job this morning of cooking breakfast for him and four of his buddies.  I miss all those boys.  It's a little sad having two of my three boys away at school. . .  

I've also been following Joanne Weir this week on Twitter.  She's in the Cinque Terre of Italy with a cooking class.  How I would have loved to go.  But I can live vicariously through Twitter, I guess. She's been posting real time tweets from her phone and  I loved this tweet from yesterday: 

"Out on Angelo's boat on the Lugurian Sea drinking prosecco.
        VERY happy students in tow. Gorgeous day"

Doesn't that just make you wish you were with them?  I really love that she's sharing that trip with her Twitter followers.  I can hear about what restaurants they are eating at (and bookmarking them for later), what day trips they are taking and what artisans they are visiting.  For people who are not on Twitter, it's hard to explain the appeal.  But if you follow people you are really interested in, this is the kind of thing that makes it worth it. 


It has really turned cold here and so it's time to make risotto for fall and that means butternut squash risotto.  That doesn't just mean butternut squash, but roasted butternut squash.  Roasting the vegetables for any dish intensifies its flavor and sweetens it and butternut squash really benefits from this technique.  Please keep in mind that this dish, as usual, is about technique, not an exact recipe.  A couple of glugs of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt - how long to roast - these are things all up to you.   You should cook by feel, by intuition and that will come with practice.  But you must be free to experiment and cook to your liking - maybe you like more pepper or olive oil than I do - or less salt. It is up to you and yes, you can adjust these things.  So don't be restricted to exact measurements. 

As I've explained before, you shouldn't be afraid of making risotto because of the stirring.  Stir a little, attend to something else in the kitchen, stir a little, sip a glass of wine, stir a little. . . you get it.

For quantities, when I make risotto, I usually figure about 1/4 cup dry rice per serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage


for a printer friendly recipe, click here

serves 4


  • 1 small butternut squash (you will probably use just one half)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock, warmed on the stove in a pot
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Peel squash with vegetable peeler.  Trim ends.  Cut squash in half, vertically.  (You can save one half for another use - roast it and serve it with dinner tomorrow).   Scoop out seeds.  Cut squash into 1 inch cubes and place on foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about  25 minutes.  Test with a fork.  You want nice crispy carmelized pieces - do not be afraid to roast the squash a little longer.

Meanwhile, start risotto. In a medium size pot, (I use a Chef's pan with sloping sides, it makes stirring the risotto easier) add 2 tablespoons olive oil and chopped onion.  Saute onion until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute.  Add rice and toast the rice, stirring for about 2-3 minutes.  Add herbs and stir.

Add wine and let simmer for a couple of minutes.  Start adding stock with a ladle, just a couple of ladles at a time.  Stir the risotto, leave uncovered at a simmer. When the stock has almost completely evaporated, add a couple more ladles and stir.  Continue this until risotto is creamy, about 25 minutes.  Turn off heat and add cheese and roasted squash.


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Reader Comments (18)

This is added to my list of food I must make! Looks good.

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

I absolutely love this dish. I did one recently that add a bit of added blue cheese, which was nice if you like that flavor combination. Delicious photos!

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori @ Culinary Covers

I've been following Joanne Weir and her class too, doesn't that sound like the most fun in the world. She left a comment on my blog once (when I had inked to her blog) and I was thrilled. Would love to meet her or go to Italy and take one of those classes! She does do classes in California too, which might be a little more do-able.

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKalyn

Elaine,I Iove your explaination of cooking, I totally agree, well said. Writing out a recipe is so hard for me. So glad you got to enjoy your boys, they must love coming home to your fabulous cooking. Butternut squash is a favorite of mine, love it in anything! Your photo'd always draw me in to your kitchen. Wish I was there for real!

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermarie

Hello Elaine,
I'm so happy to hear an Italian say that you need not stand over the risotto for 30 minutes stirring the entire time! In culinary school they taught us that we had to stand there the entire time so of course I never wanted to make it after that but then I spent a Christmas with a couple from Piedmont and watched them casually make it with no fuss.
This recipe sounds great. Sage and butternut squash are such a lovely combination.

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

My son and my daughter went away for studying, now they are at home for some months, and it is wonderfull
I love your risotto, with sage and butternut squash
Excuse my english and have a good day

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchapot

Hi Elaine,
I can't believe I haven't been here since you moved... and of course the first thing I see will be on the menu this weekend! What a beautiful looking dish.

The New blog looks fantastic.. I have to go and see what I missed...;-)

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVitania

Looks so delicious. I definitely going to try this. This is something to try this weekend. My wife has cooked risotto yesterday it was yummy dish. Its a great combination of onion, carnaroli rice and sage.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwebcam

Wonderful! I make a similar dish but this one looks fantastic. Thanks for reminding me of it again. I'm going to give it a try this weekend.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I love squash. It's the best thing about this season. Thanks!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterredmenace

I was just thinking of making pumpkn risotto! Yours looks just wonderful! Truly a fabulous Autumn dish!

October 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

This looks great. I'm going to pass it onto a friend who has been looking for a recipe for butternut squash.

October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDarina

I just had the same idea as you regarding butternut squash! And I share in your idea that risotto doesn't need to be constantly watched. Great ideas think alike...great post!

October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKari

I'm so happy to hear an Italian say that you need not stand over the risotto for 30 minutes stirring the entire time! Wonderful post as it contain very useful information on recipe.

October 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervitamin c

HI Elaine,

Found your page through my mom (a neighbor of yours). I must say this risotto is phenomenal. I've made it twice since you posted it! Also served the mozz bites at a bridal shower and they were a huge hit! Your descriptions are so helpful to a kitchen neophyte like me and so far everything I've tried has looked and tasted delicious. Thanks again and keep the recipes coming :)

November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSlicknik in CO

Dear Elaine,
what a joy to have come across your blog.
i look at it every day i love learning from you i have made one of your dishes and i'm planning on making the butternut ristotto.
thank you so much for having this for us all.
i learn so very much from you in just this short time of finding you here.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLa Tonya

HI Elaine, this is the first time I have seen a recipe where you use olive oil in the risotto. My husband's family is Milanese and they have retuarants in Macherio, trust me, they know risotto but they always use
butter. Maybe this is the American way of making risotto.
Love your blog, love your recipes.

May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Elaine, isn't risotto made with Arborio rice? Not sure what Carnaroli rice is.


May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

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