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Butternut Squash Risotto with Pine Nuts, Balsamic Drizzle, and Fried Sage

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pine Nuts, Balsamic Drizzle, and Fried Sage

Who said fall was the only time of year to enjoy foods of the orange persuasion? Not me, apparently, given the abundance of pumpkin, sweet potato, and now butternut squash that has passed through our kitchen in recent weeks. They are called winter squash, after all, right? Not autumn squash. So why the orange seems to permanently fade to red then green after the holiday season baffles me.

For one of the biggest benefits of such roots and gourds is their storage potential, staying fresh and firm for months.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pine Nuts, Balsamic Drizzle, and Fried Sage

While we’ve done butternut squash risotto before, garnished with the likes of cornmeal fried shrimp and even flavored with vanilla beans, this one has got to be my favorite. The neon orange (nearly velveeta-like in color) grains of rice are topped with asiago cheese, toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of balsamic syrup, and crisp fried sage leaves.

It’s a dish that makes me think of spring, not fall, especially as the afternoon sun slowly creeps into the upper corners of our living room, a sure sign that spring is near (we get precisely 0 minutes of direct sunlight from about Halloween on).

Think of it as a bowl of spring optimism, an edible sun dance, welcoming the first rays of spring. Or, you know, something less cheesy, but whatever, surely it’s a better harbinger of spring than a gee-dee groundhog.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Pine Nuts, Balsamic Drizzle, and Fried Sage

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours


For Risotto:
1 small butternut squash
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided

For Garnishes:
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Balsamic Glaze*

*Balsamic glaze can be purchased in the Italian aisle of most grocery stores, or you can also make it yourself by simply reducing 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with a spoonful of brown sugar until thick and syrupy.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Prick outside skin a few times with a fork. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Scoop flesh out of skin and purée in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 cup of purée and set aside.

Meanwhile, warm chicken stock in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cover and keep warm.

To prepare garnishes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a very small saucepan set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add pine nuts, stirring until coated with oil. Toast for 2 to 3 minutes or until nuts start to turn golden brown. Keep an eye on them, they can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

Remove nuts from pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add remaining 4 tablespoons oil, or enough to form a 1/4-thick layer in the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add sage leaves, 2 or 3 at a time (be careful, they will crackle). Cook for about 30 seconds then quickly remove from oil and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to cool. Repeat with remaining leaves.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped sage and cook for another minute. Add rice and stir until grains are coated and start to turn transparent, about 2 minutes.

Add wine and stir the wine has completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of warm chicken stock to the rice, stirring until liquid is mostly absorbed before adding more. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition. After about 15 to 18 minutes, when the rice is almost done, stir in squash purée. Continue to cook until rice is creamy and al dente. Season with salt and pepper.

Finish with butter and 1/4 cup grated Asiago, stirring until fully incorporated. Divide among serving bowls and top with remaining cheese, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, pine nuts, and sage leaves.

Adapted from Delallo.

// All images and text ©
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54 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this! it pretty much looks like my heaven in a bowl… chock full of FABULOUS ingredients. can’t wait to try!


  2. 2
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 8:57 am

    YUM! I think this orange-yellow hue is a great spring color!


  3. 3
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I love anything with butternut squash. This risotto looks so creamy and warming, and I love the use of sage and pine nuts. Yum!


  4. 4
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I’m seeing butternut squash and fried sage everywhere, and loving it!


  5. 5
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

    This is pure heaven in a bowl. I need some of this stat!!


  6. 6
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Love balsamic glaze, thanks now I know how to make it! The fried sage sound fantastic too!


  7. 7
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 9:52 am

    What beautiful colour in this risotto! Very yummy indeed!


  8. 8
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I love love love sage!! I think that we actually use it way too less… so happy to see a dish with lovely fried sage on top ;) looks divine!!


  9. 9
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

    This sounds so delicious and homey! YUM!


  10. 10
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Wow, this looks amazing!


  11. 11
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Balsamic drizzle? Fried sage? OhMyYum.


  12. 12
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I love this!! Awesome recipe!


  13. 13
    Margot C
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Oh that is beautiful, I’m in love! I love sage. I grow sage, three types! I’m making this.


  14. 14
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Risotto is hands-down my favorite comfort food. I can almost smell the fragrant combinations of the fried sage and balsamic drizzle. Heavenly (and gorgeous photos, as always)!


  15. 15
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I just LOVE your recipes! Risottos are one great dish and it took me a long time (till now) to find a great squash recipe, that suits my needs :) I like the pine nuts, the sage, shallots, the Asiagio cheese and everything around :) QUESTION: why not cut the squash into small peaces but bake in 2 pieces? And do you use the oil in which you prepared the garnished or do you discard it and use fresh for the rice, shallots etc.? THANKS!!! :D


    • Posted On February 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

      It’s less work to just roast the squash in halves, since it’s going to be pureed anyway. Peeling and cubing a raw butternut squash is not my favorite thing to do, but you could most certainly do that if you prefer.

      And the garnishes are prepared in a smaller saucepan while the risotto needs a big one. You could re-use a bit of the oil from one pan to another if you like but it’ll only need a tablespoon or two.

  16. 16
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I agree with you about the season. Need this risotto in my life. With that delectable balsamic drizzle. Mmmmmm..


  17. 17
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    This looks insanely good. So good, you have inspired me to make it tonight!


  18. 18
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    What fabulous flavors! This recipe is a keeper!


  19. 19
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I make fried sage just to enjoy. I love it with just a tiny bit of salt fried in butter. Which means that this dish must be really, really good!


  20. 20
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Looks awesome! My mom would love this, I’ll have to make it for her.


  21. 21
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    SUCH a beautiful dish!! And I absolutely love fried sage. :-)


  22. 22
    Michelle Ritchie
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Wow, just wow…all my very favorite ingredients all in one dish! Gotta make this. In fact, I thought our fans would love it too, so I posted it on our Facebook page to share:


  23. 23
    Posted On February 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    This looks amazing, perfect for a cold night. Love the topping of fried sage because who doesn’t love fried herbs right?


  24. 24
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 6:22 am

    What a perfect dish! I have a butternut squash that I was just going to make soup with, but this looks oodles better! :D


  25. 25
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Love this vibrant risotto!


  26. 26
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 8:11 am



  27. 27
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

    balsamic drizzle. balsamic drizzle. balsamic drizzle.

    you had me right there!!!

    also I make an awesome Butternut Squash & Zucchini Risotto w/ goat cheese that this is reminding me of – thinking about positing it now for the blog!



  28. 28
    Ashley Cris
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I made this last night and it was AMAZING!!! I will be making this again! the balsamic drizzle makes this dish!


  29. 29
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    So very good!! Thank you for this taste of heaven!
    The garnishes are very much the icing on the cake! YUM!


  30. 30
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Lindsay, this looks amazing! I love butternut squash any time of year! Yum!


  31. 31
    Posted On February 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I love the color of this! It looks so comforting!


  32. 32
    Posted On February 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    YUMMMM :) I love the color – so pretty!


  33. 33
    Posted On February 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Yum, this could be my dinner, but hubby has to have meat and just happen to have a pork loin in the freezer!


  34. 34
    Posted On February 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I absolutely adore butternut squash risotto and yours looks heavenly!


  35. 35
    Posted On February 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Love the contrast of the blue with the butternut squash orange color! Beautiful pictures and this dish looks absolutely delicious.


  36. 36
    Posted On February 26, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Oh. My. God. Absolutely adore the idea of adding a balsamic drizzle to risotto.


  37. 37
    Mary Jane
    Posted On February 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Oh my goodness, this was delicious! My squash took more like 60 minutes to cook, and I didn’t really have much squash left over after scooping out one cup of the puree. The garnishes of the sautéed pine nuts and sage leaves — and the balsamic glaze were definitely worth the extra effort. Wow!!!


  38. 38
    Posted On March 1, 2013 at 8:53 am

    AMEN to everything you said about Winter Squash. I love how it can last months! Not to mention, winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec 21st! I recently finally used my HUGE Hubbard Squash, but was debating on posting the recipe, since so many people seem removed from the orange colored veggies of sweet potato, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc.

    I was recently thinking about making your butternut squash risotto, as I’ve never made a risotto before, and I think Elliott might enjoy it!


  39. 39
    Posted On March 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Perfect! I have butternut squash in my freezer and fresh sage just waiting to be made into this. I agree that orange foods need not only be in fall. Especially since I have cans of pumpkin and frozen homemade puree left too.


  40. 40
    Posted On March 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

    This is my idea of a dream meal. It was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! and I’ve recommended it to all my friends.


  41. 41
    Posted On April 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I love Risotto and always enjoy trying new variations on this versatile dish. This one is far and away the best I’ve ever made and I crave it pretty much every weekend. Awesome, awesome Risotto!!


  42. 42
    Posted On April 26, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I made this tonight exactly to the recipe and it was amazing! I make risotto often and I think this is the best one I have made by far. My husband loved it too- especially the addition of the balsamic glaze. So yummy- thank you!!


  43. 43
    G Boyer
    Posted On May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Help! I can’t wait to try this, but I am confused–and maybe a bit slow! Do you only use the 1 cup of squash? Thanks!


    • Posted On May 6, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Yes, just 1 cup is needed. The rest can be saved for another use (it freezes well too!)

  44. 44
    Posted On May 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Lindsay, I just picked up a BEAUTIFUL butternut squash yesterday (yes, in late May!) and knew I wanted risotto. Your version is PERFECT. Making it TODAY!


    • Posted On May 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      I just made it. WOW! This is amazing. A-MAZE-ING. I now have a new favorite risotto, and that is saying a lot as I am a risotto lover!

  45. 45
    Posted On September 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    This was wonderful. My husband raved about it with the glaze on


  46. 46
    Posted On October 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    This looks amazing. I’ve never been interested in trying risotto until this recipe! Question….what do you think would be a good substitute for chicken broth? I’m vegetarian and am wondering what else might work. Thanks!


    • Posted On October 8, 2013 at 7:25 am

      Vegetable broth would work just fine in this dish. :)

  47. 47
    Posted On November 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Made it, and it was awesome.  I had to wait to have leftovers until a few hours later when I wasn’t full anymore.
    Tried the fried sage lea ves, but it was a bit of a fiAsco… They burned and made the kitchen smell really bad..oh well.   The risotto was still out of this world without them.


  48. 48
    Posted On December 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    This recipe is super delicious!! Creamy with wonderful flavor.  Love the sage.  Perfect meal for a cold winter night in VT! 


  49. 49
    Posted On January 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm


    My husband and I had this tonight for dinner (I made a LOT of the sage, as I couldn’t stop eating it and normally hate sage lol) and we both agreed, that it was the BEST meal that we have EVER eaten! And that says a lot, as we’ve travelled the world, eating in some of the best places you could imagine!

    Thank you for this piece of heaven!


  50. 50
    Posted On October 26, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight. Should have double the recipe…it made more like three servings. :] Good call on the balsamic reduction!


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