I’m well aware that I’m more than a little whole grain obsessed. Whole grains are certainly good for you, and while I’m always trying to eat healthy, this dish is a little bit naughty, and a little bit nice, if you catch my meaning. It’s healthy in that it uses the whole grain, farro, instead of the typical arborio rice used in risotto, but it’s a little naughty because of the butter and cheese.
Farro, is the Italian term for one of a few different varieties of whole grain wheat. It’s similar to a wheat berry in taste and texture, but the farro I’ve purchased tends to have a more elongated grain than the hard red wheat berries I cooked into a salad recently. This dish is warm and hearty and perfect for a cold winter night as a side dish or as a vegetarian main (substitute water for the chicken stock). I served this dish with pan roasted Norwegian Trout (similar to salmon) along with a Sicilian inspired escarole dish recently at a small dinner party and it was a hit.
On another note, I’ve been cooking a lot lately, but due to several freelance writing commitments (which I hope to be able to share soon) I haven’t had much time for posting. But never fear, I have a big backlog of recipes just waiting for me to have the time to share. More to come soon…
2cupsdiced butternut squashabout a pound before peeling and cutting
1large leekabout 1 lb whole or 2 cups sliced leeks
32ozchicken stockor water
1/4cupgrated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cut the butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and cut the ends off. Using a peeler or a sharp knife, remove the skin, and dice into 1/2" cubes.
Cut the dark green ends off the leek. Cut the remaining white part in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Rinse well in a colander under cold running water. Make sure there's no dirt remaining.
Mince the garlic.
Heat the stock or water in a separate stock pot.
Heat a large saute pan and add the oil. Add the leeks to the saute pan and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Keep stirring so they do not burn.
Add the garlic and mix with the leeks. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the wine and degalze the pan. Allow the wine to reduce almost completely.
Add the dried farro to the pan and combine with the leeks. Stir in 1 cup of the hot broth and bring to a low simmer.
Add the diced butternut squash and 1 more cup of the broth.
Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently. Add the remaining liquid about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to absorb into the grains.
Cook until the farro is tender, about 20 minutes more.
When the butternut squash and farro are tender, stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese and fresh oregano. Season with salt and pepper, serve immediately.
If you'd like to prepare in advance you can stop the cooking process before adding the butter and cheese and spread the risotto on a sheet pan to cool. It can be reheated before serving by adding a little more liquid and then adding the butter, cheese, and seasonings.