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Butternut Squash, Proscuitto and Sage Risotto, Butternut Squash, Pancetta and Sage Arancini

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Butternut squash risotto-Duo Dishes

Have you ever made a meal whose sole existence was dependent on being re-purposed for something else? This bowl of flavor-packed risotto met that exact fate. It was a successful first attempt at risotto, but making arancini was the highly anticipated end result. When a friend announced her theme for a monthly dinner party would be Italian, arancini was the first thing that came to mind. Whenever you have an excuse to try a new dish, make sure to take advantage of it. You’d be surprised how many different meals you can make out of one recipe.

Typically arancini are fried, but these rice balls were baked. Honestly, this risotto has enough fat in it that it’s not necessary to deep fry them. Not that there’s anything against frying food here. Just not this time. The mix of breadcrumbs and panko along with a little olive oil maintains the customary crunch and golden brown color. Plus, they have so much flavor from the salty proscuitto and parmesan, sweet butternut squash and pungent sage that you won’t miss the fried taste one bit. Here’s one way to revamp one meal for an entirely different occasion!

Butternut Squash, Sage, Proscuitto Arancini-Duo Dishes

Butternut Squash, Proscuitto and Sage Risotto – Serves 8
1/4 pound proscuitto, sliced thin
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 bunch fresh sage leaves, sliced
1/2 large red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 – 4 cups chicken stock
2 cups white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Olive oil
Kosher salt

1. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a deep sauce pan or skillet over medium high heat. When hot add proscuitto. Cook until crisp for approximately 1-3 minutes, then remove and set on a separate plate. Add sage leaves, toasting for about 1-2 minutes. (Be sure not to leave it too long over the heat, or the sage will burn.) Remove from pan and set aside with proscuitto.

2. Add butter to the same pan and a tiny drizzle of more olive oil. Slide in onions and squash and cook until softened and browned slightly, approximately 7-9 minutes.

3. Add rice directly to the garlic, onions and squash and stir well to mix with vegetables. Continue to heat rice for 2-3 minutes or until it takes on an opaque hue. Pour wine in with the rice and continue cooking until most of the wine has been absorbed.

4. Once wine has absorbed into rice, continue adding chicken stock 1 cup at a time for the next 20-25 minutes or until done. (Rice should be slightly al dente to the bite, so taste a few grains towards the end of the cooking time.)

5. When rice is done, remove from heat and gently stir in cooked proscuitto, sage, parmesan, parsley, allspice and zest. Salt to taste.

Butternut Squash, Pancetta and Sage Arancini – Serves 4 to 6
4 cups risotto, chilled
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko crumbs
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
4 ounces fresh parmesan, cut into small pieces
Olive oil

1. Mix breadcrumbs, panko and parsley on a plate. Set aside.

2. Take about 1 tablespoon of risotto and press a piece of parmesan in the center. Top with a bit more risotto and shape into a compact ball. Repeat with remaining rice until you have 16 even sized balls of rice. Set ball on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and chill for at least an hour.

3. Once rice has had the chance to chill, dip each ball in the beaten eggs, then roll in crumbs to coat all sides. Repeat with all of the rice and set each one back onto the parchment paper.

4. Drizzle all of the risotto balls with a little olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each ball of rice, so the bottoms are now facing up. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil if desired, turn oven down to 400 and return to oven. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Click HERE for the printable recipes.


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  1. wow…….great comforting food. Awesome risotto balls.


  2. big favorite around here and you did an awesome job!


  3. When I saw this in my google reader, I looked at the picture and said hmmmm is that butternut squash? I must click.

    And I’m so glad I did! I love that you turned this into arancini. Little balls of heaven in my opinion.


  4. superb idea!!! m loving it!! 😀


  5. Risotto is one of my favorite things to make because it’s so much fun to play with ingredients. I have yet to try making arrancini with it. I never thought to bake the balls. I guess that might make life easier, thus I’d be more likely to make them. However, the other reason I’ve never made them is that it’s very hard for me to have “leftover risotto”. 😉


  6. Nicely done. I have yet to try and attempt to make risotto. Maybe I’m a bit intimidated? I don’t know. I will eventually try. I think you’ve just given me the push I need.


  7. Holy crap, those look amazing! I have to make them.


  8. I love this! I made some risotto cakes out of some sweet pea, leek, bacon risotto I made a few weeks back. I felt very proud of myself for being so resourceful!

    This recipes looks like a must-try — I need something to get me off my quinoa kick!


  9. Wow, I really love all the flavors in your risotto! I bet they made really yummy arancini!


  10. I love your twofer specials. Both of these recipes sound wonderful, love making both, but of course had not made your versions and cannot wait to try. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Oh wow… soo many of my favorite ingredients. And I love arancini! Great recipes!


  12. I have a feeling risotto balls will be something I made with my son next week, so glad I saw this…look yummy and great!


  13. Ha! I was just looking at risotto balls on Saveur’s site. I love your idea of baking them.


  14. A great & superb idea!! Lovely risotto balls & what a yummie dip!!

    Happy Holidays!!!


  15. Those arrancini look so good. I prefer the arrancini to the rissotto anyday.


  16. You know, I can’t believe I never thought of baking arancini. I always thought the only way to go was frying. I will have to try your version.


  17. Wow, arancini.. I’ve never even heard of it! Must be one of the more unique Italian dishes that I haven’t had the pleasure of trying yet. Nice addition of the butternut squash!


  18. Love arancini! And these with butternut squash, pancetta and sage sound REALLY great.


  19. I’m all for versatile meals! Have a wonderful new year!


  20. I’ve never tried baked arancine! Never thought to slide them in the oven instead of frying. Definitely a new technique to try!


  21. Both dishes look amazing and I love the fact the arancini are baked–great idea!


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