Anya’s Holiday Risotto – Our Italian Traditions


Butternut Squash Risotto with Mostarda di Cremona, Amaretti Cookies and Fried Sage Leaves / Risotto alla zucca con mostarda di Cremona, amaretti e salvia fritta:

1 hour * 8-10 servings


2 medium butternut squash (about 4 lbs total)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 leafy sprigs rosemary

2 leafy sprigs sage

fine sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

8 or 9 cups lower-sodium chicken stock, heated to a simmer

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped mostarda di Cremona  (from 250-gram jar)

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus bit more for garnish

Scant 1/2 cup crumbled amaretti cookies


Fried Sage:

1/2 cup olive oil

30 fresh sage leaves


For Risotto —  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut 1 squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place 1 tablespoon butter, 1 sprig rosemary and 1 sprig sage into the cavity of each half. Season flesh with salt and pepper, then wrap halves individually in aluminum foil. Put squash on a baking sheet, cavity side up, and roast until very soft — about 2 hours.

Remove squash from oven and carefully unwrap; discard herbs. Scoop flesh from skins; discard skins. Puree flesh in a food processor until smooth.  (NOTE – Squash puree can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

Peel and seed remaining squash; cut flesh into 1/8 inch dice.

Combine 3 tablespoons of the remaining butter with oil in a large heavy pot and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften – about 5 minutes. Add rice and increase heat to medium-high. Using a wooden spoon, stir until rice is opaque and begins to pop – about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add wine; cook, stirring, until wine is mostly evaporated – about 1 minute. Add enough broth to just cover the rice, about 2 cups. Actively simmer the broth, stirring and scraping rice away from sides of pot. Cook until broth is mostly evaporated – about 5 minutes.

Add the diced (uncooked) squash and enough broth to just cover the rice mixture. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth is mostly evaporated – about 5 minutes more. Add 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring frequently, until broth is mostly evaporated. Continue cooking in this manner, adding broth in 1/2 cup increments until the rice is just barely tender and all’onda (a bit liquid); you may have broth leftover.


For Fried Sage — Heat oil in small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until crisp – 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Stir pureed squash and mostarda into risotto, then add cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons butter; stir to combine. Thin with a little more broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, garnished with amaretti, cheese, and fried sage.  Pair with Formaglini Vineyards La Quercia Block Pinot Noir 2014.