farro risotto with butternut squash and pepitas

7:55:00 PM


Phew! Life is busy. I'm a few weeks behind, so it's a good thing that the lack of lighting in our condo and the darker evenings make it so that many of my food photographs turn out so horribly that I'm not even bothering to post the recipe for a few things. Not that my photography is anything but very amateur on a good day, but trying to photograph enchiladas (seriously, how does that even work? How do you even DO that?) in the dark is just not working. So, a post about my amazing chicken enchilada recipe that is so good I'd make it for company will have to wait. Hopefully not too long, as I do have a fridge full of tomatillos from the farmer's market needing to be used up in enchilada sauce.

It's only October and I'm already moderately tired of sweet potatoes and squash. Though I did make these super delicious winter squash pancakes with crispy sage and brown butter from Smitten Kitchen tonight that were very yummy (I served with chicken sausage and brussels sprouts with leeks.)

Risotto is one of those things that people complain about making, but I don’t really mind it, especially not in the cooler months when standing around a stove isn’t so bad. 

Arborio rice is, of course, the best way to make risotto. It gets so creamy and delicious and perfect (eventually…) 

But, we’ve also become quite fond of farro recently.  I first started using it in summer to make delicious faro bowls with tomatoes, avocado, bacon, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a simple balsamic dressing. But it works even better in fall, I think. In the spirit of eating fewer refined carbs and opting for whole grains instead, I made this ferro-based risotto instead of arborio-based risotto, and it is a delicious fall dish. 

I won’t lie, this does not get as creamy as risotto made with traditional arborio rice - it just doesn’t have that kind of starch in it. But, it is creamy and good, and has delicious bits of roasted butternut squash, toasty pumpkin seeds, and rich gruyere cheese. It’s comforting and yummy and slightly healthier than a regular risotto. It takes about the same amount of time, but doesn’t require quite as much stirring - you can be a little less attentive to this, which is nice if you’re making a side dish or have other stuff to do. 

A gruyere works best here for the cheese. We are obsessed with Trader Joe’s cheddar/gruyere blend, which is what I used here, but parmesan would also work in a pinch. Whatever you use, use freshly grated. 


farro risotto with butternut squash and pepitas
serves 4

ingredients
for the squash
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper 

for the risotto
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1 cup of farro, uncooked
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup marsala (or white wine) 
4 cups vegetable broth
a tbsp each fresh thyme, fresh sage, fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
2 oz gruyere cheese 
about ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Cook the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection works best if that’s an option.) Toss the cubed squash with canola oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast about 20 minutes or until browned in spots and soft; set aside.

Make the risotto: Heat a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leek and saute a few minutes until starting to get tender. Add the garlic and farro and continue stirring, until farro is starting to smell slightly toasted. Add the marsala or white wine, and cook for 1 minute until wine is absorbed. Add the fresh herbs and stir until incorporated. Add 1 cup of broth, and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add another cup of broth and do the same - wait for it to be absorbed before adding more. Do this two more times with the last two cups of broth. This will likely take about 30 minutes or so total. Test the farro - it should still be a little chewy but mostly soft. If it’s not quite tender enough, add more broth (or water) and cook the same way, stirring to incorporate, until tender. 

Add almost all the cheese to the risotto (saving some for topping) and stir until incorporated. Add the cooked, roasted squash, stirring gently - you don’t want to mash the squash completely. 

Toast the pumpkin seeds by heating a dry nonstick skillet over high heat, then adding the pumpkin seeds. Stir frequently and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Once toasted, sprinkle over the risotto.



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