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Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash

26 February

This recipe is so good I had to share it even though it calls for butternut squash. I usually have an extra butternut squash just waiting for a recipe like this one! If you don’t have squash, you can use roasted Brussels sprout halves instead.

Farro is spelt, and can be found in the health food store either in bulk or in package.  The gluten in farro is more fragile than that found in wheat, so it is more easily digested. It has been found to stimulate the immune system and help lower cholesterol, and to play a vital role in blood clotting.  Farro provides at least double the protein and fiber of most common varieties of commercial wheat.

INGREDIENTS
2 ½ cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sage, chopped
1 cup farro, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 shallots, minced
1 sprig thyme
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 ½ cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon crème fraiche or plain Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash (or the Brussels sprouts) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until golden brown (the sprouts won’t take as long). Remove from the oven immediately and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sage over the hot squash (or sprouts).
  2. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over medium heat.  Drain farro and stir in the boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, and set aside.
  3. In a 4-quart pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped shitakes and sauté, about 3 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Melt butter in same pan over medium heat. Add in the shallots, garlic and thyme. Let cook until shallots become slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the farro and stir, coating each kernel with butter. Add in the white wine and let simmer off.
  5. Turn the heat down low and begin alternatively adding in the stock and farro cooking liquid, ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly with each addition. Do not add more liquid until the previous ¼ cup has been completely absorbed by the farro. This process should take about 25 – 30 minutes. After the last addition, stir until about 2/3 of the liquid has been absorbed, and add in the mushrooms and roasted squash or Brussels sprouts.
  6. Fold in cheese and stir until just melted. Fold in the crème fraiche or yogurt and remaining chopped sage for garnish, season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 – 6