RECIPE | Risotto with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter, and Sage

From Chef Steve Samson, brought to you by our partners at Pacific Sales.

February 27, 2019 ‚óŹ 2 min read

By Steve Samson | Illustrations by Zoe van Dijk

At Chef Steve Samson’s restaurant Sotto, you can always count on finding risotto on the menu. It's always vegetarian, and it's always seasonal. “Risotto is one of those dishes that you can easily keep it vegetarian, but it’s still pretty hearty, because it’s got butter and cheese,” says Samson, a loyal son of a Bolognese mother. “It’s very versatile.” Warm your bones with this classic Italian ode to winter squash.

Serves 4


1 medium butternut squash, 2 lbs, cut in half lengthwise.
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
+ kosher salt
+ freshly ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted butter
12 fresh sage leaves
+ freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cups carnaroli rice (if you can’t find carnaroli, Arborio works just fine!)
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for garnish 

1.     First, make the butternut squash purée: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F°. Brush each half of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash flat-side down on a baking sheet, roast until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Allow the squash to cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

2.     Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter to a medium frying pan over high heat, and, as it starts to brown, add 4 of the sage leaves. Turn the heat down to medium low, add the squash, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the squash to a food processor, blend until smooth, and season with more salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Set aside.

3.     In a saucepan, warm the chicken stock over medium heat and maintain a simmer so the stock stays hot. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated.

4.     Working one ladle at a time, add the hot stock to the rice, stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding another—this entire process should take about 10–15 minutes. Continue cooking until the rice is al dente, about 12–15 minutes. Mix in 2 cups of the squash purée, stirring vigorously until the risotto reaches your desired consistency. Take off the heat and vigorously add in a ¼ cup of the butter, followed by the cup of grated Parmigiano. Season to taste with salt.

5.     Before plating, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small frying pan over high heat. As it starts to brown, add the sage and fry until crisp, no more than 30 seconds.

6.     Plate the risotto and garnish with the brown butter, sage leaves, and freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.




Risotto shouldn’t be clumpy or liquid-y. With constant stirring, and small additions of warm broth to the rice as it cooks, you’ll end up with a consistency that’s right in between. When it hits the bowl, it should flatten out into what the Italians call al unda, which means wave.