Risotto is one of my favorite dishes from Italian cuisine and it goes down swimmingly in our rice-loving home. Butternut squash makes the risotto extra special, adding a deep, rich sweetness highlighted by the warm smokiness of the sage. Sage and squash are a perfect flavor pairing, in fact, and there’s just no way to go wrong with this one. Risotto is usually finished off with parmesan cheese for that signature creaminess and while this risotto, already richly flavored, doesn’t need that extra touch, I did add some vegan cashew “cheese” to mine– a delicious paste of some cashews, nutritional yeast and salt. It was quite amazing.
Butternut Squash Risotto [Vegan]
- 1 cup arborio or other medium-grained rice (you need a starchy rice for risotto, unlike the long-grained basmati)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
- 4-5 cups hot vegetable stock (you could use water, but a stock is far more preferable for better flavor)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Cashew “cheese” made by blending together 1/4 cup cashews, 1 tsp nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup of water, and salt to taste (optional)
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the butternut squash, a pinch of salt, and some ground black pepper.
- Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes or until the squash starts to soften and caramelize.
- Turn down the heat to medium. Add the rice and stir it with the squash until it begins to turn opaque, about 1 minute. Season again with salt and pepper.
- Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until the wine’s almost evaporated.
- Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and stir it in. Once the stock has almost evaporated, add another 1/2 cup. Repeat until the rice is cooked. It took me about 35 minutes. Don’t forget to season again with salt and pepper at the end. You might need more or less stock, and you basically want the rice to be tender yet slightly toothy, or al dente. In other words, you don’t want mushy rice. You also don’t want the rice to be dry and lumpy. It should be smooth and creamy.
- Now add the cashew “cheese”, if you’re using it, and stir it in. Immediately add the sage and mix. Turn off the heat.