I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.
Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.
Acorn Squash Farro Risotto
1 cup farro (I use risotto)
4 cups water, divided
2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)
2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)
1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)
2. Preheat the oven to 400º. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.
4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.