A Squared: Butternut Squash Farrotto

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Butternut Squash Farrotto

So, my 9-month old erased my iPhone the other day. That was fun.

Hannah LOVES playing with my phone and I always figured that as long as it was locked she couldn't do much harm, right? Wrong! Apparently, my phone has a security setting enabled that will erase all data after 5 failed password attempts. I guess Hannah's little hands grabbing on to my phone were enough to register as someone trying to crack into it and just like that, we were back to factory settings! I melted down, handed the phone to my husband and asked him to call Apple Support, and left the room. Did I mention I'm REALLY bad about backing up my phone?

After about 48 hours of worrying that almost all documentation of Hannah's first 9 months of life had been erased, I was moderately reassured that at least the highlight photos had been added to and safely stored in Lifecake, an app we use to share daily baby photos with our close family and friends. Thanks, Lifecake! And somehow, after many updates and upgrades to my sad old laptop, it appears that (no thanks to me) all of my iPhone photos found their way safely to my hard drive. Thank you too, Apple! Now that I can breathe again, I'm back with a recipe post (and yes, I digress) and of course, sharing my cautionary tale as a reminder to always always back up your data.

Now, on to the food... I love a good risotto, but it's been a while since I have made one. They're time consuming and time is definitely not something I have to spare these days, so long leisurely cooking sessions don't often happen anymore. That is, except for Sundays when I usually set aside some time for meal prepping-- for both the week's dinners and also my lunches. And when I was looking for a way to use up a surplus of butternut squash, a risotto seemed the perfect way to do so! Instead of using standard arborio rice I used farro. I love the nutty flavor, the chewy texture, and the fact that it is a healthier carb full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It's the perfect base for a creamy risotto filled with roasted squash, earthy thyme, and some chopped toasted walnuts.

I made a huge batch of this and enjoyed it all week for lunch, which worked really well. It reheats nicely and for a meatless meal, it's really filling and perfect for getting me through the workday. It would also make a great vegetarian entree on a chilly Meatless Monday evening or a lovely companion for roasted chicken or pork. To save time, you can roast the squash ahead of time (which is what I did) and then you're just left with the job of stirring the farrotto until it absorbs the broth and becomes tender and delicious.

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 14 oz. pearled farro, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups butternut squash, cubed and roasted**
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & toasted 

In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth just to a simmer. Cover and keep hot over medium low heat until you are ready to use it.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. oil. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and thyme and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the farro to the pan and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring until it has almost completely evaporated, approximately 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir constantly until the broth has almost completely absorbed, for 2-3 minutes. Continue stirring the farro and repeat the process of adding 1/2 cup broth at a time. Allow each 1/2 cup of broth to absorb before adding the next. Pour in the last 1/2 cup of broth along with 1 cup of the roasted squash and continue stirring to cook until the farro is chewy and firm. While stirring, use the spoon or spatula to gently break up the squash so that it incorporates into the farrotto.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the grated cheese, remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to serving bowls and top with additional roasted squash. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top and serve.

**How to roast butternut squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the top and bottom off a medium butternut squash and use a sharp knife to carefully peel off the skin. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside. Discard seeds and membranes.

Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine diced squash with 2 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated and then spread out on a large baking sheet.

Roast for 25-30 minutes until squash begins to caramelize and is fork tender.

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