I debated between ‘Fall Farro’ and the more descriptive title above for this dish, because in our house ‘Fall Farro’ is absolutely what this is – a delicious side dish featuring many of my fall favorites. With roasted butternut squash, caramelized red onions, toasty walnuts and tangy goat cheese, this graces our table alongside simply seared fish and meat throughout the season. I decided against it (the ‘Fall Farro’ thing) because this dish absolutely has legs for winter and even beyond winter if you’re one of those I-don’t-give-an-expletive-what-season-it-is-I’ll-cook-what-I-like-thanks-very-much types.
I will say upon enjoying the butternut squash + goat cheese combo for the first time this season I immediately forgave summer for leaving the party so early this year. Against the backdrop of the nutty farro, the roasted vegetables and melty goat cheese are just phenomenal. And it made me that much more excited about all the fantastic roasting, braising and stewing that comes with cooler temperatures.
Farro is one of those ‘ancient grains’ *major buzz word alert* – aka healthy whole grains that been unchanged for thousands of years, unlike many modern varieties of rice, corn or other wheat products that have been bred selectively over time. This doesn’t mean one is better, or better for you, than the other. It’s more about the fact that the old-schoolers are all whole-grains, and whole grains beat white rice or processed wheat any day health-wise. And they make for great variety! Excuses for eating the same ‘ole these days are dwindling with so many wonderful choices making their way to mainstream market shelves, and that I love. Important to note in the newly coined ancient grain category despite being gluten-free are amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and teff – so those with gluten intolerance are welcome to step back in time as well for sampling! Others (wheat based) include kumut (relative to wheat), spelt (dates back even before wheat), barley and rye. Farro is also not gluten-free.
Farro is great because there are no ratios or measurements to remember like when you’re cooking rice or polenta for example. With farro just cover it with an inch or two of water or stock, simmer and drain the excess when it’s cooked to your liking (like pasta, you want it toothsome). Semi-pearled farro will cook in about half the time putting it on par with basic white rice.
So no more excuses – it’s time – to try something new this fall!
butternut squash farro with walnuts and goat cheese (aka fall farro)
- 1 cup farro
- 3 cups water or chicken broth
- 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out, and diced
- 1/2 large red onion, cut into small wedges or thick slices
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1-2 Tbs walnut oil or more olive oil
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Combine farro, 1 tsp salt and water or broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, anywhere from 20-45 minutes (cooking time will depend on whether your farro is semi-pearled or not; semi-pearled cooks in about half the time). Taste often as it cooks, as like pasta you want the farro to retain some toothsome texture. When cooked to your liking, drain any excess liquid and set aside.
3. While farro cooks, toss the squash, onion, thyme, olive oil and balsamic together. Season with salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables have caramelized some. Remove from the oven and let cool.
4. In large bowl gently toss farro and roasted vegetables with the walnut oil. Taste and adjust for salt. Serve garnished with the goat cheese.
Serves 2-3 as a side dish; recipe can be easily doubled
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks