RECIPE: Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash and Ginger
As some of you have probably noticed, we try and cook with whole grains when possible at our home. Because of this switch, risotto is typically out of bounds for me. It is far too starchy and affects my Crohn's disease. It also turns into sugar way too fast (hello cellulite?)! But I have been trying to work with Farro-or Emmer wheat-as a healthy, fiber-rich replacement. From what I understand, true Emmer wheat takes less time to cook. I have only been able to find run-of-the-mill whole wheat berries so far, so cooking time is a bit long, depending on how chewy you like your grains. So when cooking your whole wheat be sure to check on it often and add liquid if things need to go longer than you were hoping. If you can get a hold of real Emmer wheat at an Italian grocery store, grab it and use it! It is more tender and takes less time to cook.
Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash and Ginger
2 1/2 lb. Butternut squash
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. fresh finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups farro (Emmer wheat) or whole wheat grain
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth (half if using Emmer wheat)
2 1/2 cups water (half liquid if using Emmer wheat)
(have more broth or liquid on hand as you go)
1/8 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh chopped)
1/8 tsp. crushed dried rosemary (or 1 tsp. fresh chopped)
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped parsley
Preheat your oven to 350˚. Cut the squash in half. On one half, drizzle half the oil on the cut side, sprinkle some salt and pepper and put face down on a lined baking sheet. With the other half, peel and chop into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a pile next to the half squash, toss with the rest of the olive oil and some more salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the squash half is fork tender. Let cool. Scoop out the squash flesh with a spoon and set all squash aside.
In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add the grated ginger and cook until all is softened and onions are translucent. Add the grains and cook until grains are toasted to a nice gold color.
Add the wine and stir until liquid is absorbed. Then add the water and broth and herbs. Stir and cover. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. Watch the grains as you go, stirring occasionally. Depending on your grain and desired tenderness, you may need to add water/broth and cook them longer. We prefer our grain with a little chewiness to them, it is a nice compliment to the creaminess of the squash. However, true Emmer wheat can be as creamy as a risotto-I have had it at a restaurant where you could not tell the difference! So have extra liquid on hand and set aside enough cooking time for your grains. You can always reheat if you are done early with a little extra chicken stock.
When your grains are near done, add the squash and stir. Cook another 15 minutes or so for flavors to meld, then add the Parmesan cheese and stir. Serve warm with an extra sprinkle of cheese and a touch of parsley.