farro with squash and kale

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we need to do something nice for ourselves. something healthy. something full of leafy greens. 

it is a bit of a selfish request, you see. i'm on a couch coughing my lungs up, surrounded by lozenge wrappers and half drunk cups of mint tea. i have a really divine fudgy brownie recipe, but it'll wait for later.

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this is not exactly a quick weeknight recipe. the three elements need to be cooked separately – the kale blanched, the squash roasted, and the farro is slowly simmered risotto-style. aka: lots of stirring.

but when the dish comes together, it is magically greater than the sum of its delicious parts.

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cooking the farro slowly, first by toasting the grains and then slowly adding chicken broth, results in a deeply nutty and meaty flavor. the grains stay al dente, with a nice firm bite. but the broth reduces down to an almost creamy sauce. it perfectly coats the kale. 

this all works because farro has the same starch as arborio rice. you get the same unctious mouth feel (how awful is that phrase!) but with a bit of whole grain goodness.  unless you're not into that type of thing.  i think farro might be a good grain? it's ancient, which i think is good.

ugh. nevermind, don't ask me. i've already got enough research projects for my cold-medicine-addled brain to manage.

what i do know? try to find the pearled farro. it won't take as long to cook. plus it sounds special.

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i used acorn squash here, as called for by the original recipe. but i'd bet you could open one of those super handy dandy packets of pre-cubed butternut and save yourself a few minutes of cursing as the vegetable peeler is gummed up yet again with squash skin as you're fruitlessly digging it into the narrow little acorn squash furrows.

does anyone know a better way to peel acorn squash? or was acorn squash really only meant to be halved, filled with butter and brown sugar and roasted? shall we leave the peeling and cubing for the slightly more ergonomically-inclined butternut squash? yes? good. glad we settled that.

either way you go, this is a really lovely comfort food. hearty and satisfying without being heavy. easily made vegan if you are so inclined. but also lovely with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for those of us who like a little indulgence. 

i'm feeling better already.

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 Farro with Squash and Kale

From Epicurious.  Delicious as a side for a simple roasted chicken, or a main for meatless Mondays.

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes OR about a half a medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 bunch red Russian or other kale (about 5 ounces), center stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock mixed with 2 cups water, warmed
  • finely grated Parmesan, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan. Add squash, season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning squash every 10 minutes, until tender, 30–35 minutes.

Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool; drain.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add farro; toss to coat. Roast in oven until toasted, stirring once, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; wipe out skillet.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to high. Stir until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add farro and 1/2 cup warm stock mixture. Stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.  Continue cooking, adding broth by 1/2 cupfuls, stirring and allowing broth to be absorbed between additions, until farro is tender. This will take between 30 and 45 minutes – maybe up to an hour.  I can usually tell when it is time to add more broth when you can drag your wooden spoon across the bottom of pan and the little liquid left stays parted for a few seconds. 

Add kale, squash; stir gently until vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

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