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Recipe excerpted from ‘Seven Seasons on Stowel Lake Farm’

SQUASH AND SAGE RISOTTO

We often serve risotto to our guests at the farm. It’s such a fantastic vegetarian main dish that is truly seasonal—from an early spring version with fresh mint and asparagus to the deep autumn flavours of roasted squash and sage. I serve this particular risotto from late September into deep winter, as long as our winter squash lasts after pulling it in from the fields.

Serves 6 to 8

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Crispy sage leaves
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 to 15 whole fresh sage leaves Risotto
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 10 to 12 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter Coarse salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tbsp butter

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. I tend to use butternut squash for this recipe, but many other varieties, such as buttercup or kabocha, work well. (My favourite winter squash the past few years is a kabocha variety by the name of red kuri.) As with the Squash Blossom Risotto (see p. 104), this can be finished with butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano or even a little truffle oil.
  2. Crispy sage leaves: Heat 4 tbsp olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add whole sage leaves and cook until fragrant and starting to crisp. This happens very quickly! It only takes about 30 to 45 seconds. You don’t want the sage leaves to get too dark in colour. Remove with tongs and set aside on paper towel.
  3. Risotto: Heat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place on a parchment-covered baking tray and bake until soft (about 1 hour). Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop the squash flesh out of the skin. Discard skin and set the cooked squash aside.
  4. Heat vegetable stock and leave on a low simmer. It is important that stock is warm when you begin adding it to the risotto.
  5. Dice onion and chop remaining 3 tbsp sage. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large pot and sauté onion until translucent. Add rice and chopped sage and sauté, stirring, until rice starts to turn translucent (about 2 minutes). Pour in wine and cook just until liquid is absorbed. Begin adding stock to the rice, one ladleful at a time. Stir, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock, stirring with each addition.