Brown Butter Farro & Roasted Squash

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I was out to dinner with a good friend last week and we ordered a delicious salad that has led to the creation of this recipe. When dining out I have a tendency to indulge and often avoid ordering the kale and farro and quinoa … I cook with these things all the time at home and I like to treat myself to other foods while out. But, this salad stood out and my friend was raving about it so I decided to give it a try. It was amazing, so much better than the gnocchi that we also ordered. The brown butter adds a sweet and salty richness that is absorbed by the toasty, nutty farro, making this dish quite addicting.

This is now a new favorite of mine. The combination of earthly farro and rich brown butter is divine. I’ve used farro in various ways in the past, but this is by far my favorite, it was hard to stop myself from eating the whole bowl. The nutty flavors of farro and brown butter combine wonderfully creating a delicious base for any seasonal roasted vegetables. This will make a beautiful, crowd pleasing side dish for Thanksgiving or any upcoming holiday party you’re throwing. Adding color, texture and variety to the to the foods you cook is a simple way to add nutrition as well. I promise, you’ll be surprised by how addictive this salad is.

Farro is an ancient grain with roots that trace back to Northern Africa. It has been cooked with for centuries in Italy and as the trend toward whole foods spreads across America it has begun to appear on our grocery shelves as well. There are several forms of farro available so be aware of what you buy and prepare it accordingly. Whole grain farro must be soaked overnight to soften the outer husk. Pearled and semi pearled farro, semiperlato farro in Italy, has been slightly processed and lacks some of it’s outer husks and bran, allowing it to be cooked more quickly and without soaking. Whole grain farro is high in fiber, zinc and vit B3.

Follow this recipe to the T or use it as a base, adding whatever seasonal vegetables you find at your local farmers market. Candied hazelnuts add a nice crunch and a hint of sweetness to the dish, but feel free to add any nut of choice or no nuts at all. Dollops of fresh goat cheese would be amazing in this salad as well, the possibilities are truly endless, just buy what is local and seasonal and the fresh flavors will shine through.

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Brown Butter Farro & Roasted Squash
  • 1 cup whole grain farro, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½” cubes
  • ¼ c hazelnuts
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • handful of hardy greens, chopped
  • ¼ c butter
  • drizzle of maple syrup
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Drain farro from soaking water, rinse and place in a medium pot with 3 cups of water and ½ t of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 1 hour, or until al dente. If needed, drain excess water. For best results, cook according to package directions.

While the farro is cooking, heat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel squash and cut into small cubes. Place 2 cups worth on a large sheet pan, drizzle with about 1T olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a small baking dish or baking sheet, place ¼ c of chopped hazelnuts, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, maple and salt. Place in the oven for 5 minutes to toast.

In a small skillet, melt 1 t of the butter, add shallot and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add greens, mix and remove from heat.

In a small, heavy sauce pan, melt the remaining butter. Allow the butter to come to a simmer and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.