Roasted butternut and sage risotto


Earlier this year at the start of summer, I bought a bunch of packets of herb seeds.  I planted them in teensy pots and waited for them to sprout.  Some sprouted almost immediately, others took a little longer, and one bunch did not sprout at all.  I had three little baby plants in one pot with wrinkly leaves so I assumed these were the mint that I’d planted.  I potted two out for myself and took the other two over to a neighbour’s house.  She was delighted as she’d been sipping Pimms in a pub that afternoon and saying how she should grow some mint at home.  A few weeks later, I was out in the garden checking on my plants and thought I’d pick some mint.  Only, by this time the plant was considerably bigger, and now looked nothing like mint at all.  The little wrinkly leaves had turned out to be… sage.

I only hope my neighbour never tried to put them in a Pimms cocktail!

It wasn’t a totally daft mistake to make though – sage (Salvia Officinalis) is in fact part of the mint family.  It is a perennial that grows into a shrub up to two feet tall.  Its fragrant flowers vary from white to blue to pink and are rich in nectar, which makes a wonderfully fragrant honey. It has been a prized medicinal herb for centuries, being touted as a cure for everything from snake bites to epilepsy.  In fact, in the 17th century, sage was so highly prized that the Chinese were willing to give Dutch traders three to four pounds of tea in exchange for oue pound of European sage leaves.  Sage is the flavour used in vermouth and various bitters and is known to contain powerful antioxidants which slow spoilage.

The classic partners for sage are onions and pork, but I thought it’s slightly bitter flavour would pair well with sweet, roasted butternut squash in a risotto.  And I was not disappointed.  This easy seasonal risotto perfectly combines bitter, sweet and salty flavours in a warm, comforting bowl of rice.  Autumn isn’t so bad after all!


2 shallots, finely chopped
20g butter, plus 20g cubed for later
2 Tbsp olive oil
300g short-grain risotto rice (I used arborio)
100ml dry white wine
750ml vegetable stock
about 1.5 cups of roasted butternut cubes
100g grated Parmiggiano
5 sage leaves, very finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste


To prepare the butternut, peel and de-seed one small to medium butternut squash and cut the flesh into small cubes.  Toss with olive oil and roast at 190C for about 30 minutes or until soft.

Melt the butter together with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent and soft but do not let them brown. Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly stir so that each grain is well-coated with oil/butter.  Add the white wine and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed almost completely.

Add the stock (I used Kallo organic) a ladleful at a time (probably about 150-200 ml per ladle).  Keep stirring until each ladleful has been completely absorbed, but do not let the rice dry out and stick to the pot.  Once each ladleful is absorbed, add the next until the stock has all been added.  The rice should be soft but each grain should retain some bite in the centre, perfectly al dente.

Stir in the roasted butternut, two thirds of the chopped sage, the Parmiggiano and remaining butter in cubes, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve either in wide, shallow bowls garnished with more grated Parmigiano and the rest of the chopepd sage leaves.

I’m submitting this as my entry into Weekend Herb Blogging (the event created by my friend Kalyn and admnistered by Haalo), hosted this week by the lovely Haalo herself.  Amazingly, WHB is celebrating it’s four year anniversary this week!

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  1. says

    I quite enjoy overcooking butternut squash a bit before adding it to a risotto so that some of it breaks down entirely and gives the whole risotto a lovely orange colour and rich squash flavour through and through. I like the thought of sage in this as well.

  2. says

    How could fall ever be not-perfect,with dishes like this coming up in my reader…..I love how butternut makes risotto and pasta dishes even more creamy!!!

  3. says

    I love butternut, doesn’t matter in what form. Specially butternut soup. I have to admit that I have never tried to make any type of risotto though.

  4. says

    This sounds like autumn in a bowl! I have some buttercup squash to use up, I think I will try it in this recipe. I know that sage paired well with my buttercup squash in a creamy pasta sauce I made before.

  5. says

    Greetings from Cape Town,
    This looks absolutely delicious. And who knows, when it’s Pimms’O Clock, your neighbour might enjoy the twist.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

  6. says

    I’m willing to bet that sage and mint are the two hardiest herbs of all. I love sage, and I’m actually thinking of planting some of the purple sage among my flowers next summer. Great looking dish!

  7. says

    I raced right out (well, raced as soon as the official workday ended) after finding my way here from Marie’s 66 square feet blog and acquired a convenient-size squash to try this. I love that it “serves 2.”
    There’s a great deal of sage in my garden because (FYI) it makes a delectable beverage — 3-5 leaves in a cup of hot water, sweetened or not.

  8. says

    mmmh – this sounds and looks amazing! guess what we made with our carving left-overs from halloween! autumn at its best! i combined it with chestnuts this time, also one to remember!

  9. says

    We got a recommend to check out your blog, and that’s a great thing. You have some really lovely recipes, including one of our faves…butternut squash! With sage and lots of cheese, it’s magic.

  10. browniegirl says

    YIKES!!!! This has me drooling…….Im off to see if I have butternut hehe…thanx Jeanne! I’m mad about autumn – the tastes, the cooler temps, the colours…lovely!! Have a great week xxx