Squash risotto, sage, hazelnuts & brown butter

Squash risotto, sage, hazelnuts & brown butter

Food to feed the soul - what better antidote to steely skies than preparing and sharing a spirit-lifting risotto for friends and family. Enriched with brown butter and hazelnuts, for depth of flavour and added crunch, this comforting dish is best served with a crisp glass of Showerings. The cider’s bittersweet back notes are the perfect foil to the risotto’s rich and creamy texture. 

Ingredients: Serves 4-5

  • 1 medium honeynut, butternut, or acorn squash (about 800-1000g)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 750-1000ml (3-4 cups) water or broth, warm
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 15-20 sage leaves
  • 30g (1 1/4 cup) hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) Arborio rice
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) white wine
  • 50g (1/2 cup) grated Parmigiano, plus more to serve

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut your squash in half and drizzle the cut side with 1 tbsp of olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Turn the squash so that the cut side is facing down and bake for 40-45 minutes or until very tender, then remove from the oven and allow it to cool enough that you can handle it.

A squash cut in half showing seeds

2. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. With the same spoon, scoop the cooked flesh away from the peel and transfer it to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until very smooth. If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup of water to help smooth it out. Measure out 2 cups of the puree and set the rest aside for another use.

3. Bring the water or broth to a simmer in a pot and have a ladle handy.

4. To another large, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat, add 1⁄3 cup olive oil. Once hot, add the onion, season generously with salt, stir to coat it in the hot oil. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the onion begins to brown.

Sage leaves

5. While the onions and garlic cook, add the butter to a large frying pan over medium heat. Allow it to melt, then become foamy and fragrant. At this point, add in the sage leaves and chopped hazelnuts and continue to cook until the butter is nicely browned and the sage leaves are cooked, watching closely to avoid burning. Season with salt and set aside.

Arborio Rice

6. When the onions have browned slightly, add the Arborio rice to the pot and stir to mix evenly. Cook, stirring every so often, for 1-2 minutes to toast the rice, then add the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, another minute more.

7. Add 500ml (2 cups) of boiling water or broth and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the liquid has evaporated, then add the remaining 250ml (1 cup) of water or broth and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the rice is cooked but still has a slight bite. If the rice still seems undercooked, add more water or broth until it reaches this point

Risotto cooking in a pot

8. Once the rice is cooked, stir through the reserved 2 cups of squash puree and the parmigiano. Cook for another minute or two, then stir in the juice from 1/2 lemon.

9. Scoop the risotto onto plates, then spoon over the hazelnuts, sage, and brown butter and garnish with more grated parmigiano.

Squash risotto with sage, hazelnuts, and brown butter