1 bunch sage leaves, crisped in 2 tablespoons of butter
Toast the pine nuts: Using a dry skillet, heat over medium heat. Add the pine nuts. Tossing frequently, allow the pine nuts to roast until they begin to turn a golden brown.
Crispy sage leaves: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauté pan; add whole sage leaves. Allow the leaves to become crisp by frying for about 2 minutes on each side, delicately turning the leaves with tongs once during the process. Remove the crispy sage from the butter and set aside until time to garnish the finished risotto. Pour any leftover butter into the finished risotto.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the diced butternut squash in a single layer on a large roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper and roast for about 20-25 minutes or until tender to a knife tip. Stir and toss the squash halfway through the roasting process. Remove half of the squash and puree. Reserve the other half as cubes to be added to the finished risotto.
In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté the onions and garlic in a blend of 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add the rice and stir until coated. Add the wine and continue to stir until it is absorbed.
In a separate soup pot, bring the broth to a simmer and separate one cup of broth into a separate bowl. Add the saffron to the reserved broth to infuse. Set aside.
Once the wine is absorbed into the rice, slowly add 1-2 ladles of broth to the pot of rice, starting with the saffron-infused broth; bring to a low simmer. Keep simmering and slowly add ladles of broth (one ladle at a time). Stir continuously, until the broth becomes absorbed.
Add the salt while stirring and adding the broth. Taste test the risotto often to ensure adequate salt according to your taste. When the risotto is al dente, add 1 more ladle of the stock, stir, and turn the heat to low.
Add the roasted, pureed squash and stir. Then, add the cubes of roasted squash. Add vanilla extract. For a silky finish, stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Serve hot. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and crispy sage. If you wish, have more Parmesan cheese available at the table.
*Should have 3-1/2 – 4-1/2 cups of cubed butternut squash