I wore boots and a sweater yesterday. That’s kind of a happy/sad thing for me, because I’m actually more of a shorts and sandals kind of a girl, but I really, really love my boots and sweaters, and it’s always kind of fun to pull them out and try them on again. Oh, and my jeans. I always hold my breath the first time I put those on for the season. They still fit 🙂 even with all of the cooking I’ve been doing for this blog! So I’m happy to wear some of my old favorites again, but sad because I know I’ll be in them for a very long time and by next May, I’ll be wanting to burn them.
Sweater weather is also comfort food weather, and my all-time favorite comfort food is risotto. It’s one of those warm, creamy, delicious foods that just wraps you up and keeps you warm. Traditionally, risotto is made with Arborio rice – an Italian, super starchy rice. It gives risotto it creaminess without actually having to add any cream. As much as I love Arborio rice, I’ve been searching for a healthier substitute -something with a lower glycemic index, and more fiber, and I’m happy to say I found it in Farro, which is a whole grain often used in Italy. Whereas Arborio (or most white rice) has no fiber, and only about 3 grams of protein, Farro has 7 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of protein in a comparable ¼ cup (dry) serving. Farro is also much lower on the glycemic index scale than rice, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly. SOLD!!
[box] Tip! Make sure you buy regular Farro vs “pearled” Farro, which is not considered a whole grain.[/box]
Farro risotto involves a slightly different cooking method than traditional risotto because the farro is prepared ahead of time and cooked al dente, and then combined with the other ingredients. I found it to be much faster and easier than regular risotto which requires lots of attention and stirring time at the stove.
This recipe for Butternut Squash “Farrotto” not only gave me a chance to try out Farro risotto, but it also gave me a chance to play with a wonderful imported Italian cheese I’ve been testing for a recipe contest. Montasio is a lovely substitute for the Parmesan usually used in risotto, because it has a more mellow, slightly sweet and spicy flavor, which I found complements the ingredients in this dish perfectly. If you have the cheese rind, do add it because it really gives this dish a nice complex flavor. Butternut Squash Farrotto is sweet, savory, creamy, rich, and warm all at the same time. Tell me that’s not comfort food!
By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Legends From Europe and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time and all opinions expressed are my own.
- 2 cups farro
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 4 cups 3/4-inch cubes of butternut squash
- 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 4 large shallots chopped
- 3 slices thick cut organic bacon lightly cooked and drained of fat
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 tsp dry sage
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup grated Montasio cheese + 1 rind approx 2 inches x 1 inch
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Soak the farro in water for 30 minutes. Drain.
Cook farro in chicken broth just until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving any excess broth.
In a large saute pan, melt butter and 1 Tbs olive oil. Add butternut squash, and sprinkle with brown sugar, nutmeg and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook squash for 10-15 minutes until softened and brown in spots. Transfer cooked squash to a plate to cool.
Add additional Tbs olive oil to the sauté pan, along with shallots and bacon. Cook on medium until shallots are softened and bacon is crisp.
Add wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits.
Reduce the heat to low, and add precooked farro to the shallots and bacon and stir to combine.
Add dry sage, thyme and rosemary sprigs, and Montasio rind.
Simmer farro on low, stirring occasionally and adding additional broth one ladle at a time, as needed.
When farro is tender, remove rind, and herb sprigs. Add cooked butternut squash and stir to heat it through.
Stir in 1/2 cup Montasio, and add salt and pepper to taste.
If desired, serve with additional fresh grated Montasio on top.
Have you ever tried Farro? Or Montasio?