We are thrilled to share yet another recipe from Nabila at Spirit Plate. This is a fancy dish with multiple steps. It requires some patience but the result is SO well worth the wait. It’s deeply rich with layered flavors that bring to mind sitting on a trattoria patio in Italy with a glass of wine and great conversation. The trick is to let each portion of liquid be completely absorbed by the risotto rice before adding the next portion to slowly coax out the starches and get a nice, creamy result.
Part I: Make the Butternut Squash Puree
- 3/4 lb washed, peeled, and cubed butternut squash
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 large fresh sage leaves
- 2 tbsp butter (regular or vegan)
- 3/4 cup stock (approx.)
- sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 475F. Melt butter (I used Earth Balance) over medium heat in a small pot. Add squash with sage leaves, garlic, and vegetable stock. Season liberally with sea salt and simmer until squash is fork tender. Remove sage leaves and blend mixture until completely smooth. Pour back into pot, keeping warm until ready to use.
Part II: Roast the Butternut Squash
- 1/2 lb washed and peeled butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
Cut squash into 1/2″ cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt to taste. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the tray and set aside.
Part III: Fry Sage Leaves
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil)
- 1/4 cup fresh, clean and dry sage leaves
Heat oil in small frying pan over medium high heat. Lower sage leaves with a slotted spoon into the hot oil for 5-10 seconds until they all turn an even brown color. Remove leaves with the slotted spoon and dry on a paper towel.
Part IV: Make the Sage Brown Butter
- 1/2 cup butter (Earth Balance)
- 10-15 fresh, clean and dry sage leaves
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a clean sauce pan over medium heat. Brown the butter to an even rich golden color, stirring frequently. Add 10-15 fresh, clean and dried sage leaves to the butter and remove from heat immediately. Once butter has cooled (but is still liquid) remove sage leaves and strain into a bowl and set aside.
Part V: Make the Risotto
- 2 1/2 cups stock
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup arborio risotto rice
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
- 2 cups of butternut squash puree (see above)
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups arugula
- roasted butternut squash (see above)
- sage brown butter (see above)
- fried sage leaves (see above)
Place stock and water into a large pot. Bring to boil and then turn down heat to keep liquid at a light simmer. In a separate large heavy bottom pot heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and pinch of salt and let sweat until translucent, 10-15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of stock liquid to soften onions. Let the liquid evaporate completely. Turn the heat up to medium high and add all the rice. Toast the rice for a few minutes until the edges of the grains are translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine to deglaze. Stir the rice until the wine evaporates. Add one cup of the hot stock liquid. Stir often to coax the starches out of the rice. Once absorbed, add the warm butternut squash puree and continue to stir. Once the puree thickens and reduces, go back to adding the hot cooking liquid. Add the next cup of liquid only when the last cup has been absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently. During the cooking process, make sure to adjust the heat so the liquid is always gently boiling. Continue to add liquid and cook the risotto until it reaches the al dente stage or cook to your liking (I prefer more tender grains). Once done, stir in the butter and turn off the heat. Fold in the roasted squash cubes and arugula. Cover and let rest 2 minutes. Just before serving, add a bit of hot liquid to loosen the consistency, if necessary. Plate on warmed dishes. Top with fried sage leaves and a drizzle of warm sage brown butter. Serve immediately.
Photos and Recipe by Spirit Plate.