Butternut Squash and Pan Fried Sage Risotto to mark the onset of Autumn

by Jacqueline on October 27, 2012

One of the best Vegetarian Risottos around

Butternut Squash and Pan Fried Sage Risotto

I had always taken a rather dubious approach to making risotto. I think I had been put off  with the countless horror stories about the finished article, and I avoided making it for some time. I mean if you are going to stand over a stove endlessly stirring, you want to reap the rewards….don’t you?

I ventured into making risotto a couple of years ago, more accurately, butternut squash risotto when I ordered it in a gastropub and was so disappointed with what arrived; long grain rice with brick hard butternut squash. Not very appetising and it made me try to discover the taste of what I had expected all those years ago. When I attempted this recipe, which has been adapted from BBC Good Food  I was more or less expecting failure but much to my delight it was unctuous and just on the right side of indulgent. Attention, the butter and Parmesan cheese in the recipe do make this dish so try not to scrimp on the portions :-)

The use of butternut squash signals everything about Autumn and Hallowe’en to me. This year I have been fortunate enough to spend the beginning of Autumn in the UK and I have marvelled at the changing colours of the trees. Deep russets, gold and chocolate colours blot the landscape. I don’t get to see much of this in Hong Kong so I was happy to be reminded of just how beautiful the Autumn season is. Mother Nature is kind to us, this tree greets me every morning as it screams it’s changing coat of many colours.

A tree in Autumn

Autumn has well and truly arrived

I always struggle preparing Butternut Squash, it seems to take forever to peel and carve the blasted vegetable but I do feel it’s worth the effort. The sweet notes it renders upon roasting is just too comforting to be without!

Butternut Squash - worth all the effort

Butternut Squash with Autumnal Leaves

Butternut Squash and Pan Fried Sage Risotto

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 4 for Lunch or Dinner

Autumn would not be the same without this comforting squash and sage risotto. As long as you are willing to spend time attending to the risotto, dare I say.... it's idiotproof? To save you a bit of time and space in the kitchen, the frying of the sage can be done and set aside before the risotto is made.


  • 1kg of butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • A generous bunch of sage leaves, half roughly chopped, half left whole
  • 1 litre of warm vegetable stock
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g of arborio rice
  • 1 small glass of white wine
  • 50g of parmesan finely grated
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Heat oven to 200°C. Toss the squash in 1 tbsp oil together with the chopped sage and season with salt. Scatter into a shallow roasting tin and roast for 40 mins until it is brown and soft.
  2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the risotto.
  3. In a pan, melt half the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the onions and sweat gently for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir the rice into the onions until completely coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges of the grain start to look transparent.
  5. Pour in the wine and simmer until totally evaporated.
  6. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time and stirring the rice over a low heat for 30 mins, until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slightly firm, starchy bite in the middle). The risotto should be a creamy consistency.
  7. At the same time, gently fry the whole sage leaves in a little olive oil until crisp, then set aside on kitchen paper.
  8. When the squash is cooked, mash half of it to a rough purée and leave half whole.
  9. When the risotto is just done, stir though the purée, then add the cheese and butter and leave to rest for a few mins.
  10. Serve the risotto scattered with the whole chunks of squash and the crisp sage leaves.
  11. Season with freshly ground pepper.


This recipe tends to make a generous serving for 4 people.


The original recipe advises 1.5 litre of stock but I feel 1 litre was sufficient. I was looking for a creamy consistency rather than a soup-like consistency.

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto

Seasonal Risotto

As we move onto next week, I cannot believe Hallowe’en is fast approaching. Last year I spent Hallowe’en in Hong Kong and was surprised to the extent to which it is celebrated. Pumpkins and Hallowe’en parties are in abundance and not just restricted to those of younger age. It does make me smile at how creative and outlandish some of the costumes can be :-)

Halloween time!

Vibrant Hallowe’en mini pumpkins

Hallowe'een Time

City Super USA Halloween Pumpkins

Happy Hallowe’en to all those celebrating!

Like How to be a Gourmand on Facebook

I’m entering this post to the October One Ingredient challenge hosted by lovely ladies Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura over at How to cook good food. This month we are really spoiled with the range of recipes. Head on over for some seasonal inspiration.

In addition, I’m entering the Herbs on a Saturday challenge hosted by the very talented Karen over at Lavender and Lovage

Herbs on Saturday

How do you use Butternut Squash?



{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lisaiscooking October 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm

This is such a great dish for fall. The fried sage is delicious with the squash! I wish there were an easier way to chop up a butternut squash, but I agree it’s worth the trouble.


2 Jacqueline October 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Lisa – I do love this dish. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a tad lazy and impatient – I get my other half to start chopping.


3 Laura@howtocookgoodfood October 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm

This is looking delicious. I love butternut squash in a risotto, it’s such a comforting dish to eat and sage is a perfect herb to go with it. I must say I love preparing them too. Are you using a good sharp knife? Also I find cutting it in half so you have the straight bit and the curved bit separate make the prep so much easier.
Thanks for entering One Ingredient! xx


4 Jacqueline October 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Hi Laura, thanks for the comment. I am using a sharp knife – I think I need to learn to be more patient. It is a good tip to split it in half but that day I was being very lazy :-) As always, thanks to you and Nazima for hosting One Ingredient x


5 Karen October 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This is a fabulous recipe and I love the sage leaves that are sitting on top! (That would make it a perfect entry for herbs on Saturday too!) I always struggle with squash as it needs a good sharp knife and. Big knife too! Such a lovely autumnal dish and with glowing colours! Karen


6 Jacqueline October 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

Thanks Karen – so kind of you to say. I’ll add it to Herbs on Saturday with the previous blog entry tomorrow. Great suggestion :-)


7 Karen October 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm



8 Jacqueline November 1, 2012 at 8:06 am

My pleasure Karen – thanks for hosting :-)


9 Camilla @Fabfood4all October 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Lovely recipe and photos as always Jacqueline, I love butternut squash and was late in discovering it. I always use my potato peeler to peel the squash and then chop off the ends. My personal pet peeling hate is the Swede, I’ve often got a knife stuck inside one of those devils!


10 Jacqueline October 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

Thanks Camilla. Yes swede is a whole different ball game, isn’t it?


11 rita cooks italian October 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

Dear Jacqueline, I’ve never tried squash risotto! This is a very inspiring dish that I will try out. I agree that the quantity of butter and Parmesan should not be changed because risotto needs a lot of flavours! I love roasted sage. (PS I peel butternut squashes with a potato peeler. I always choose a squash that has NOT a classic pear shape!!!)


12 Jacqueline October 29, 2012 at 10:13 am

A-ha! Not a classic pear shape maybe worth trying that then? Thanks Rita :-)


13 All That I'm Eating October 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Wonderful classic flavours. I made a squash risotto with blue cheese when I liked squash more than I do now! I love it with sage too, it looks great.


14 Jacqueline October 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Thanks Caroline – I imagine squash risotto with blue cheese makes a great pairing!


15 Jo October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I just bought a butternut squash for my lemon fish tagine (again!) but am tempted to use it for your risotto instead! I imagine it’ll be perfect for this weather as well. Thanks for the inspiration Jacqueline!


16 Jacqueline October 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I don’t blame you Jo, that fish tagine was ace! Hubby loved it and I felt oh so virtuous after eating it – what a great recipe :-)


17 Mich - Piece of Cake October 30, 2012 at 4:55 am

Look at all those beautiful pumpkins and squash! The dish looks wonderfully delicious. I have always loved risotto and am certain I would enjoy this very much.


18 Jacqueline October 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Thanks Michelle. It has a wonderful rich taste – perfect for the colder periods. Do they celebrate Hallowe’en much in Singapore?


19 shuhan October 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

squash just goes so so well with crispy fried sage. it’s a classic combination that I never tire of. autumn indeed, I coudl almost swear it’s winter what with the 1 degree saturday morning we got here in london!


20 Jacqueline November 1, 2012 at 8:06 am

I know what you mean Shuhan, it was very chilli over the weekend but I do love the colours Autumn brings :-)


21 rita cooks italian November 5, 2012 at 11:15 am

I cooked this risotto last night! DELICIOUS I’ve used a mix of your recipe and my blogger friend Alida’s recipe @ my little Italian kitchen THANK YOU


22 Jacqueline November 5, 2012 at 11:36 am

So glad you liked it Rita. Thanks for letting me know :-)


23 Alida November 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

This is a wonderful risotto Jacqueline. I love the way you have presented it and I will certainly give it a go! Beautiful dish!


24 Jacqueline November 6, 2012 at 2:56 am

Thanks Alida. Coming from an Italian, that’s a real compliment :-)


25 Franglais kitchen November 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Jacqueline this is a wonderful risotto. I love the addition of pan fried sage as well. I can imagine this dish must have smelt wonderful as it cooked. I agree no scrimping on butter and parmesan. If you are going to make a risotto it has got to be done properly! Unctuous is just as it should be.


26 Jacqueline November 6, 2012 at 2:57 am

Thanks Nazima – yes the butter and parmesan does make the risotto taste wonderfully indulgent. Thanks for hosting One Ingredient!


27 Choclette November 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I love squash in pretty much any form – gorgeous colour and a rich sweet flavour. Your risotto looks very pretty and I suspect it was very tasty too.


28 Jacqueline November 12, 2012 at 2:51 am

Thanks Choclette and welcome to my blog :-) It tasted really delicious and very easy to make!


29 Jacqueline November 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm

It looks wonderful and is the perfect Autumnal dish. I have never actually tried vpbutternut squash risotto and now I am wondering why.


30 Jacqueline November 25, 2012 at 3:48 am

Very easy to make Jac. It is truly delicious.


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