Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Sausage is the perfect Fall celebration of hearty flavors and feel-goodery comfort food!
Isn’t it awesome how food can bring back fond memories? For me, food is a celebration of family, just generally good times, and lotsa love! I mean, how can you be in a bad mood when you have such fantastic eats adorning the table? A full belly is a happy life. Words of wisdom spoken by yours truly.
Anyway, butternut squash risotto takes me way back to my early days of developing foodie love. I grew up in a small town. There weren’t a lot of food options available back then (maybe this has changed now?) in the one grocery store that the town supported. If they had everything that was on your standard ingredient list, it was a good day. So when I actually left home and started seeing the world of food that I somehow missed growing up, it was like an exciting adventure.
My sister, who has great taste, by the way, introduced me to risotto. I’d never even heard of risotto before. But I quickly fell in love with this creamy cheesy rice dish. Risotto is made with a special kind of rice called Arborio. You cook it by adding broth (or some type of liquid) in over time, simmering and stirring, and it pulls a creamy deliciousness out of that rice that cannot be compared to any other.
I’ve made a lot of risotto over the years since then, but most of them did not include butternut squash. You see, my husband – not such a big squash fan. And while I really do love butternut squash, I do not love it enough to eat a whole one by myself. They’re kinda big, you know.
My husband was out of town a couple of weeks ago, my mother had just brought me a butternut squash, and I thought, you know, it’s time to resurrect this fond memory.
The original inspiration for this risotto comes from Epicurious, but I wanted to make a few changes in the way the squash was incorporated into the dish and also to make sure it was extra creamy. So I merged their idea with some of my other recipes and came up with something that I truly love. Also, for good measure, I had to throw some sausage. It was just crying for me to do it! It’s amazing with or without.
The one warning I will give you, the hardest part of this recipe for me…..cutting that freakin’ butternut squash! They have extremely thick skin. PLEASE use a really good sharp knife that also has some weight to it for your squash prep. A really big sturdy chef’s knife will do the trick. If you don’t have one of those, the next best option is a big serrated knife. I really don’t want to hear of anyone losing a finger from cutting squash, so just make sure you have the right tool!
Please, if you love butternut squash, then give this amazing risotto a try. Or if you don’t like squash, just give risotto a try.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Sausage
- Medium butternut squash about 3 pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil to brush
- Salt to taste
- 5-6 cups nonfat chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 ounce) plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 6 cups baby spinach washed about 4 ounces, and stems discarded
- 8 ounces sausage (pork, chicken, turkey) cooked and blotted dry
For roasting the squash:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Halve squash lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and guts.
Cut long crescent shaped slices (about 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches wide). Brush each slice with olive oil and then lightly season with salt.
Roast slices in a shallow baking pan (you can also use a baking sheet), skin side down, flesh side up until tender and beginning to turn golden brown, about 50 minutes. (Start risotto after squash has been cooking about 30-40 minutes so it will all finish at the same time).
When finished cooking, cut out 1/2 inch pieces of cooked squash, discarding skin. Set aside approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of squash for serving on top or side of risotto and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Roughly mash the remaining squash that you will be adding to the risotto.
For the risotto:
Bring chicken broth to a simmer, turn down, but keep over heat to maintain hot temperature.
In a medium pot or deep skillet, add butter and onion.
Cook onion over medium heat until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add rice, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed.
Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente, about 15-20 minutes (soft, but firm - make sense? You still want it to have shape and texture, not just turn into mush). Do not feel obligated to use all of the broth. There will be leftover broth (I usually land between 4-5 cups of broth used. Depending on your altitude and humidity, you could use more or less).
Stir in cooked squash and cream, then stir in cheese, salt, sage, baby spinach, and cooked sausage.
Simmer to combine everything, just about 1 minute. (If the risotto seems dry at all, thin risotto with some leftover broth to make a little more creamy.)
Top with any reserved squash pieces, Parmigiano, and sausage, and serve immediately.
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