A few weeks ago, at our local farmer’s market, I spied a deal on butternut squash and bought several, assuming I’d use them all up right away. Well, as those things go, they just kept sitting on the counter, neglected for other food projects. I was finally determined to find a way to use them up and wanted to figure out a new way to highlight this winter squash.
In January, I had cooked farro for the first time and absolutely loved the nuttiness and texture of the grain. I wanted to try substituting farro for arborio rice to make a butternut squash risotto. Farro is a whole grain and is high in fiber and protein, but takes slightly longer to cook. I used pearled farro for this recipe, which takes a little less time to cook than regular farro. The results were fantastic! It does require slightly longer to prepare than a regular risotto, including some soaking time for the farro and about 5-10 more minutes of cooking time on the stove, but I really loved the results. The slightly chewy, nutty grain paired with sweet butternut squash and a little feta made this a delicious and nutritious meal on its own but could also be a side dish to a pork chop, chicken breast or fish fillet.
Butternut Squash Farro Risotto
- 1 cup pearled farro
- 4 cups water
- 1 medium butter squash (about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut in to 1/2 inch cubes)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
- 5 ounce bag baby spinach
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
Mix the farro and water together and let sit for about 20 minutes. Drain the farro and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the squash is roasting, add the chicken stock to a pot and heat to a low simmer.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the farro and cook until toasted, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the wine and cook until absorbed and the farro grains start to plump, about 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the chicken stock at 1/2 cup at a time, letting each addition fully absorb before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is cooked through, about 30 minutes. You may have some leftover broth.
Transfer the squash to the pot, then add sage, spinach and feta and stir to incorporate. Serve hot.