Oh, risotto. If you’ve ever looked up a risotto recipe, you probably noticed it requires standing at the stove, giving your constant attention to a skillet of gently simmering arborio rice. Adding broth, stirring; more broth, more stirring. To be clear, I enjoy making risotto. Yes, it’s a hands-on process, but I find it soothing. I love watching the grains of rice soften and turn into a creamy, decadent dish. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those who like to set it and forget it, I present this recipe for Instant Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage.
First, a brief history of risotto. It is said that rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain during the Middle Ages. The Mediterranean climate was perfect for growing short-grained rice, and so it grew in popularity. In Milan in particular, rice became a culinary staple. Slow cooking was also popular in the region, which led to the creation of risotto. When cooked slowly, the starchiness of arborio rice blends with the broth to create a thick, creamy sauce.
As you can see, the slow-cooking method is part of what makes risotto what it is. This recipe for Instant Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage takes a major shortcut by using - you guessed it - the Instant Pot. Add everything to your Instant Pot and the starchy rice will cook and blend with the vegetable broth in just six minutes. The butternut squash will be perfectly tender, too!
Traditional risotto recipes usually include butter and parmesan. Not only do these ingredients add flavor, the fat in dairy moves the flavors of the entire dish over the palate. I wanted to mimic the flavor and behaviors of dairy in this Instant Pot risotto with a simple cashew cream. Cashews are rich in healthy (unsaturated) fat and provide even more creaminess to this plant-based meal.
Lastly, I can’t forget to talk about the fried sage. Fried sage! I learned this technique in my culinary program and I’m forever changed. Fresh sage leaves fried in a touch of olive oil and sprinkled with salt provide the BEST crunchy texture contrast to this creamy Instant Pot risotto. It only takes a few minutes and provides a big impact. I encourage you to try it!Print
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- A few twists of black pepper
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup cashew cream (recipe follows)
- Fresh sage leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
For the cashew cream:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup water
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Set your Instant Pot to sauté mode. Melt the vegan butter in your Instant Pot, then add the shallot and onion. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and a few twists of black pepper and sauté for 3 minutes, until soft.
- Add the arborio rice to your Instant Pot and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butternut squash and vegetable broth, then press the cancel button.
- Twist on the lid to your Instant Pot and make sure the release valve is set to the sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook button and make sure High Pressure is selected. Set the timer for 6 minutes.
- While you wait for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and cook the risotto, make the cashew cream. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the raw cashews. Boil the cashews for 10 minutes.
- Pour ½ cup of water into a high speed blender, then add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and sea salt.
- When the cashews are soft, drain the water and add the cashews to your blender. Blend the cashew cream until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Adjust salt to taste (I added another pinch).
- Once the timer goes off on your Instant Pot, use the quick release function to allow the pressure to come down. When the float valve clicks down, untwist the lid and remove it.
- Stir ¼ cup of the cashew cream into the Instant Pot risotto and stir. Store leftover cashew cream in the fridge.
- To make the fried sage, place a small skillet over medium heat and fill it with enough olive oil to coat the surface of the pan. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you dip a sage leaf in the oil and it sizzles rapidly. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot - turn down the heat.
- Line a plate with a paper towel and set it next to your stove. Carefully drop the sage leaves into the hot oil and fry for 20 to 30 seconds, until they stop sizzling and jumping around. Use tongs or tweezers to transfer the fried sage leaves to the paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle the fried sage with a bit of sea salt.
- Scoop the Instant Pot risotto into small bowls and top each with a few fried sage leaves. Serve warm.