Butternut Squash Arancini with Sage Honey

By • October 27, 2010 14 Comments

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Author Notes: Arancini means "little oranges" in Italian and this recipes takes this literally: butternut squash adds color and flavor to these fried risotto fritters. I top these little oranges with sage scented honey and lemon, the perfect complements to the squash inside.


Serves 8-10

  • 1-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 5 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 bunch fresh sage (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. It should be soft when pierced with a fork when it is done.
  3. While squash is cooking, heat remaining one tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the shallot and garlic for about 1 minute. Add rice and saute for about a minute, until the grains start to turn translucent. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Add stock (which is preferably being kept warm in another pan on the stove), a half cup at a time. Stir until the stock is absorbed and then add another half cup until all the stock has been used and the risotto is soft and creamy. This should take about 20 minutes.
  5. When the squash is done, add it to the saucepan and stir until the squash has mostly broken down and is well-incorporated into the risotto. You may need to add a bit more stock to make this happen. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Note: I don't mind seeing some orange chunks in my arancini, but if you prefer a smoother consistency, you may want to mash the squash with a potato masher before adding it to the risotto.
  7. Remove the risotto from the heat once the mixture has become quite stiff. Refrigerate the risotto for at least an hour or until it's cool enough to handle. You could also prepare up to this point a day before completing the recipe.
  8. While the risotto is cooling, Heat the honey very slowly in a small saucepan. Once it's warm and liquid (about 100 degrees or so) remove it from the heat and add the sage leaves. You might want to muddle the leaves a little to help with the flavor extraction, but you'll be fishing these sage leaves out later so don't mash them up too much. Set the honey mixture aside.
  9. When you're ready to make your arancini get everything set up first. Have a bowl for each: crumbled goat cheese, flour, 2 eggs beaten, panko.
  10. Mix 1 lightly beaten egg into the risotto. Use a tablespoon and get a big scoop of risotto. Nestle about a teaspoon of goat cheese in the middle. Then roll the ball in flour, then dip in egg and finally roll in panko. Set aside on a tray. Repeat for the rest of the risotto.
  11. On the stove in a deep sided skillet, heat 1-inch of canola oil on medium low to about 350 degrees. Once the oil is hot enough, work in batches, dropping the risotto balls one by one into the oil, turning about every minute or so for even browning. They should be completely done in about 3-4 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towels. Repeat for all the remaining arancini.
  12. When they're all done, remove the sage leaves from the honey and whisk in the lemon juice (you may need to re-heat your honey at this point to make it more liquid).
  13. Arrange your arancini on a plate and drizzle the honey over them. If you prefer, you can serve the honey as a dipping sauce on the side. Serve immediately.

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