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Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage-Infused Oil

Satisfying and beautiful - roasting squash in flavor-packed oil brings out the sweet nature of this fabulous vegetable. Use this technique to impart any herb flavor to oil.
Prepare the Infused oil:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (best quality)
2 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, coarse chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Heat the olive oil, sage and minced garlic cloves in a very small sauce pan or skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, over a medium heat until the oil bubbles. Continue cooking at a medium-low heat for one or two minutes, never letting the garlic brown. Remove from heat. Leave to cool. After cooled to near room temperature, strain oil into a small bowl through a fine sieve, pressing down on the solids. Discard solids. This will provide about ¼ cup flavored oil.
Roast the Butternut Squash:
About three cups peeled and cubed (1-inch) butternut squash
     (from a 1½ pound squash)
2 Tablespoons sage and garlic infused oil (recipe above)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400°. Peel the squash, using a Y-shaped peeler. Carefully cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds by scraping with a spoon until smooth. Slice the squash into one-inch slices, then cut into cubes. Place cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle two tablespoons of the garlic and sage infused oil over the cubed squash. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat squash with oil. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until squash is cooked through and is browned at edges.

Make the risotto:
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons infused oil (recipe above)
½ cup finely minced shallot
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups roasted butternut squash (recipe above)
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the chicken stock in a medium sauce pan. Keep warm. Heat a large sauce pan or risotto pan and coat the bottom with two tablespoons of the garlic and sage infused olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and sauté over medium heat until the shallot just begins to brown. Stir in the Arborio rice and stir until the rice is well coated with oil, about one minute. Add two ladles of hot stock to the risotto. Stirring constantly, cook until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue adding additional ladles of hot stock to the rice after each ladle of liquid is absorbed, while stirring, until the rice is just tender, about twenty minutes. (You may have a ladle or two of stock left over.) When rice is just al dente, stir in the roasted butternut squash, about one minute. Continue stirring over low heat as the squash incorporates into the risotto, changing the color to a golden orange, leaving large chunks of squash. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and the butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Mixture will become very creamy. Serve immediately.


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