Friday, November 5, 2010

As Farro-Butternut Squash Risotto recipe

Really, is there anything better than a comforting, healthful meal on a cold, rainy night? After basically ignoring my family for a few days as I prepped and then taught several cooking lessons this week, yesterday was my day to redeem myself. My older child read and hung out in the kitchen with me, and my little one brought me Lego creation after Lego creation to admire as I stirred the risotto. Unlike most of the recipes I have passed along to you that have quick assembly and then a half hour or so cook time, this one requires you to attend to the pot for that half hour. But it is worth it, trust me.

Farro-Butternut Squash Risotto
(Makes 8-10 servings)
olive oil
whole farro (I used a 1.1 lb package b/c I wanted to make enough for a small army)
2 lbs butternut squash, chopped
1 onion, chopped
a few cloves of garlic, chopped
fresh sage
2 quarts of broth (vegetable or chicken, your choice)
5 oz. tub of shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup boursin, marscapone, goat cheese, cream cheese or heavy cream (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat a bit of olive oil. Add the onion and butternut squash and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and softened. (The squash will not be cooked through, that's ok as it will continue to cook with the farro.) Add the farro and cook for about 1 minute, stirring to coat it with the oil. Add enough stock so you can still stir the risotto without it sloshing out...proper risotto recipes will tell you to "warm the stock and add it 1 cup at a time", but let's be realistic-- who has time to do that? It'll be just fine adding the whole first quart as long as your pot is big enough to hold that much liquid. (And room temp is just fine.) This is the half hour you'll be at the stovetop, so grab a glass of tea or wine and relax. Gently stir the risotto while the liquid is being absorbed. After that first quart of broth is absorbed, I add a handful of the Parmesan, stirring so it melts, and then I add more broth from the second quart-- this time go easy, adding the broth a little at a time while you're stirring so you don't overdo it on the liquid. (Last night, I went through about 1 1/2 quarts of broth.) Towards the end of the cook time, you may add a little extra creaminess (marscapone, goat cheese, boursin, heavy cream) if you'd like, and the remainder of the shredded Parmesan and the fresh sage. The farro is done when it is al dente (farro grains don't melt into each other like Arborio rice) and enrobed in the thick, creamy liquid, about 25-30 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper.

The benefit of using farro is that farro risotto holds up much better to reheating than regular aborio rice risotto. So, once it's cooled down, you can package up the remainder for a delicious lunch or dinner in the next few days. Simply add a bit of the leftover broth to your risotto when reheating it.
Here is the recipe in photos. Enjoy!

In a large saucepan, I sauteed the onion and butternut squash over moderate heat until the onion was softened.

Add the farro...

and cook for about 1 minute, stirring to coat it with the oil.

I wasn't kidding when I said I poured the whole first quart of broth in. Patience is not my virtue. It works just fine this way. Then you simply stir the risotto until that first batch of broth is absorbed.

I forgot to take a photo of the risotto when the first batch of broth was absorbed... this was about halfway through the cook time. I had added more broth, the fresh sage, and a handful of Parmesan and continued to stir the risotto.

You can see that the broth is getting a sort of "creamy" look to it...

Towards the end of the cook time, I added a hearty dollop of Boursin I had in my fridge. This just makes the risotto a little creamier, but it's totally optional.

The last handful of Parmesan went in...

and the farro is done when it is al dente (try a piece) and enrobed in the thick, creamy liquid, The whole cook time should take 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy! Oh, and if any of you have trouble finding farro in your local market, here's a link to order some. I bought mine at Whole Foods, in the pasta aisle (Rustichella d'abruzzo brand).

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