Butternut Squash Risotto with Crumbled Bacon and Fried Sage
After doing a quick pantry inventory and checking on the herbs in my raised bed, I realized that I had plenty of arborio rice in stock, as well as an abundance of fresh sage in the front yard, which meant I could cook up a good risotto for dinner. I remember having a squash risotto for dinner a couple of years ago at the Maple Grove Inn in Knoxville, and I liked how it tasted. But I also thought I could elevate the flavor with the sage and butter. I just didn't know how. Luckily we have the Internet, and after typing in a few keywords into the Google search bar, I stumbled across the perfect recipe from Fine Cooking. It was exactly what I wanted to do: butternut squash risotto with bacon and sage. How perfect, right?
The process for making risotto is pretty straightforward. (If you don't have arm muscles, then by the time the risotto is cooked, you'll have developed some from all the stirring. ) I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I finely chopped a small onion because I didn't have a shallot. And I was excited to use the butternut squash that I had in this week's CSA share from the Colvin Family Farm. It was the perfect amount for this dish, which can serve four easily.
It takes a while to make. It's no 30-minute meal, but it's definitely worth the wait. The sage, I believe, is the key ingredient. It's sweet and savory, and it kicked up the flavor of the butternut squash. Frying the sage in olive oil was a great way to prepare it. It allowed the sage to be crumbled in with the risotto, and also gave the dish some added texture.
I've become a risotto enthusiast this CSA season, having made a lemony risotto with kale and radishes a few times this year. I think risotto can be a nice appetizer, but by incorporating some different vegetables, you can really change the flavor and create some very satisfying main courses.