How to Build….Risotto

Risotto is easy if you follow the basic formula. Read the formula all the way through before starting to cook — when you add the vegetables depends on which you choose, and you have to heat your broth at the beginning of the process.

1) the onion: all risotto starts with onion. You can use a shallot or onion. Melt 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil in a dutch oven and add chopped onion and cook until softened.

2) the rice: Arborio. No choice there. Add 1 c rice to the onion and cook for a minute, stirring to coat.

3) the liquid: white wine and broth of your choice. Add about 1/2 c. of white wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Heat 4 c. broth so it’s warm when you add. Set timer for 35 minutes. Over the course of the 35 minutes, add warm broth 1-2 ladlefuls at a time, stirring frequently.

4) the vegetables: use any vegetables you want. When you add the veggies depends on which you choose. If I’m using asparagus or peas, I add them near the very end because they need minimal cooking. Mushrooms or butternut squash might be added at the beginning, after sauteeing the onions. Alternatively, you could cook the vegetables separately and add them at the end.

5) the extras: After the 35 minutes, add 1/4 c. Parmesan or a similar (e.g. asiago) cheese, 1 T. of butter, fresh herbs (e.g. thyme or parsley), salt and pepper.

Recap of ingredients (for your shopping list):
olive oil
onion or shallot
1 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. white wine
4 c. broth
vegetable of your choice
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
fresh herbs (optional)
salt and pepper



Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage


Butternut squash is a pain. It’s hard to peel, hard to cut, and you often don’t need the whole squash for your recipe. Pre-cut squash can be slimy and the chunks are too large. Some recipes are worth the trouble. This one is.


  • 1 package or bunch of fresh sage
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 of a medium butternut squash
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. White wine
  • 4 c. Chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/3 c. (More or less) Parmesan cheese


1) Peel the butternut squash, cut lengthwise, and remove seeds. Wrap half in plastic wrap and put in fridge for another meal to come. You’ll be so happy because your squash is ready to go! Cut the other half into 1/2 inch cubes.

2) Chop shallot. Chop about 1/4 of the sage. Cut off the stems from the remaining sage leaves.

3) Put the broth into a medium saucepan and heat over low heat. You want the broth to be warm during the cooking process.

4) In a Dutch oven or similar pan, melt 1 T. butter and a little olive oil. Add the sage leaves (not the chopped sage) and sauté until the leaves turn dark and slightly crispy. Remove from pan and sprinkle with salt.

5) Add a little more butter and/or olive oil to the pan and add the shallot. Cook for a minute or so and add the butternut squash. Cook on medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add salt, pepper, and some nutmeg – maybe about 1/4 t.

6) Add Arborio rice, stir, and cook for a minute to get the rice nicely coated. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes, until most of the wine evaporates.

7) Now comes the fun part. Set your timer for 35 minutes. Ladle 1-2 ladlefuls of hot broth into the rice mixture and stir. For the next 35 minutes, this is what you’ll be doing. I pour myself a glass of wine, grab my sudoku, and go back and forth between wine/sudoku and ladle broth/stir. Don’t let too much time pass before stirring or your risotto will stick to the bottom of the pan and you’ll be very unhappy.

8) After 35 minutes, taste the rice to make sure it’s cooked, and add salt, the chopped sage, 1 T. butter, and the Parmesan cheese and stir.

9) To serve, spoon some risotto into a shallow bowl and top with the crispy sage leaves.