Farrotto with Roasted Acorn Squash

by Talley

in Main Course,Pasta & Grains,Vegetarian

Farro Risotto It was a minor revelation when I first realized that risotto could be considered more than just a dish made with Arborio or Carnaroli rice. Instead, it became a method or a technique that could be applied to any dried ingredient that cooks in liquid for a while, such as pasta, orzo, or in this case, farro. Farro is the italian name for Emmer Wheat. Bluebird Grain Farms FarroIt is an ancient grain that, according to Harold McGee, was probably the second wheat variety ever to be cultivated and, until early Roman times, was the most important grain from the Near East to northern Africa and throughout Europe. Nowadays Farro has been superseded by durum and bread wheats, but is still widely available and seems to be cropping up again in creative restaurants and home menus.

We used to order farro online until we found Bluebird Grain Farms at the Seattle farmers’ market. Their farro is plump and hearty and much better than some of the “authentic” italian brands (whatever that means) you will find online. They have an online store as well where you can purchase whole and milled farro.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Making Farro Risotto The amount of time it takes to get the farro tender will vary depending on your farro. We like to soak our farro in room temperature water for an hour or two before using it in this dish. If you are looking to shorten the actual cooking time, you could parboil the farro for 20 minutes in salted water before adding it in the following recipe. Another important thing to remember here is that you must use low sodium chicken broth, and preferably use homemade stock where you can control the salt content. If you use normal chicken stock, by the time it has all reduced away, you could be left with a salt-lick of a dish.

To finish off your meal, consider using some of your unused farro in this unique crumble from one of our favorite blogs.

Farrotto with Roasted Acorn Squash

Farrotto

  • 6 to 7 cups unsalted homemade chicken stock, or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1½ cups farro
  • ½ cup dry white wine, or sherry
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 1½ Tbsp sour cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Squash

  • 1 or 2 acorn, or other winter squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp caraway seeds
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • a pinch of cayenne

One hour before starting, cover farro with water and soak at room temperature. Drain after one hour and reserve.

The squash can be roasting while you prepare the farro. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut the acorn squash into large wedges. In a small bowl combine all the spices. Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet and put into the oven. Turn after about 15 minutes, and remove from the oven after about 30 minutes, once the squash is golden and tender. Let cool until easy to handle, then remove the outer skin and chop into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat; add a bay leaf, lower the heat and keep covered at a simmer.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 4 minutes. Increase the heat to moderate, and cook, stirring, until the shallots are golden. Add the farro and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, to toast slightly.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine is absorbed by the grains, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sage and 1 cup of the broth and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the broth in this fashion, ½ to 1 cup at a time, until the farro is tender yet still firm in the center, and the risotto is creamy but not soupy (it may not require all 7 cups of broth).  This could take an hour or more depending on your farro.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the roasted and chopped squash. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Farrotto With Roasted Acorn Squash on Foodista

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie November 15, 2009 at 8:09 am

You read my mind, I was thinking about some farro risotto with squash and mushrooms this weekend! Love the sage in there. (And thank you for the shout out!)

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Stephanie November 15, 2009 at 9:48 am

Sounds like the perfect dish for a cold winter night! I’m already planning to make it tomorrow — but with Kabocha instead of Acorn squash! :)

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Talley November 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

great! looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Jessamyn November 18, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I love Bluebird Farms farro, it’s so amazingly flavorful compared to other stuff I’ve bought. We once had a dish of farro flavored with morels and cream (at Lark in Seattle) and have done very successful versions of it at home. Not risotto-style (although I have tried that) but boiling the farro and sauteing the mushrooms separately. Wonderful.

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Talley November 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Hi Jessamyn! That’s funny, one of the first times I had farro and loved it was at Lark. It was a farro with mushroom dish as I recall… vaguely creamy. probably was a very similar dish! I’d love to hear what you’ve done to recreate it at home. (was this it?)

Thanks for stopping by, we love your site.

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Jessamyn November 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

That was certainly one of our attempts! I think I’ve done it a little differently each time, but I do like adding cooked farro to a pan of mushrooms and mixing in a bit of cream. It’s simpler than a farrotto, but still delicious. Cooking the farro in broth (or maybe soaking dried mushrooms and adding the liquid?) would be a great way to add even more flavor, without needing to spend all the time stirring. Of course, I rather like stirring risotto. As long as I have a wineglass nearby.

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