To me, this farro risotto with butternut squash and kale is fall comfort food at its best! I recently updated the recipe, too, to simplify it. This risotto requires neither stock — I use water alone now — nor constant monitoring: I add all of the water at once. It comes together in just over an hour and couldn’t be more delicious.

A pan of farro risotto with roasted butternut squash and kale.

Risotto is something I feel moved to make about once a season — it’s delicious, everyone loves it, and when it’s made with whole grains and lots of vegetables, it’s healthy. too.

But it takes FOREVER to cook. In an effort to cut down the cooking time, I recently made this farro risotto, an old favorite, with a few modifications:

  • In place of making a homemade vegetable stock, I used water alone.
  • In place of slowly adding the liquid 1/2 cup at a time, I added the whole quart of water at once.
  • In place of puréeing the roasted squash with stock, I puréed it alone.

It came together surprisingly quickly: while the farro simmered and the squash roasted, I grated the parmesan and prepped the kale. In just over an hour, the whole dish was done.

To me, this is fall comfort food at its finest, best gobbled up sitting by a roaring fire, blankets wrapped around shoulders, toes tucked into slippers.

Farro Risotto Notes:

  • The squash can be roasted (and puréed) a day (or two or three) in advance.
  • I find water alone to be flavorful enough here, but if you prefer stock here are two options: homemade vegetable stock | homemade chicken stock.
  • Different grains will take different lengths of time to cook. If you use arborio rice or something similar, you may want to add the water slowly to ensure a creamy end product.
  • Use any squash in place of the butternut. One roasted butternut squash will leave you with lots of extra purée — freeze it or make soup with it or make this risotto again.
  • Any dark, leafy green can be substituted for the kale.
  • If you leave out the cheese, this dish becomes vegan, and while I love the cheese, the puréed butternut squash adds a creaminess and richness. I suspect if the cheese were not there, I wouldn’t miss it.
Onion, garlic, farro on a table.

First, minced onion and garlic sweat in a little butter, then farro enters the pan:

A pan of sautéed onion and pearled farro.

Meanwhile, roast the butternut squash:

A roasted butternut squash on a sheet pan.

Then purée it until it’s silky smooth:

A blender filled with puréed squash.

After about 45 minutes, the farro will start looking creamy:

A pot of farro, getting creamy.
Kale on a cutting board.

After you add some of the puréed squash to the farro, toss in a handful of slivered kale:

A bowl of chopped kale.

Finally, stir in freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano:

Parmigiano Reggiano added to the pan of farro risotto.
A pan of farro risotto with butternut squash and kale.
A bowl of farro risotto with butternut squash and kale.
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A pan of farro risotto with roasted butternut squash and kale.

Farro Risotto with Squash and Kale


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

Farro recipe inspired by this recipe on Serious Eats.

November 3, 2020 Update: I have simplified this recipe. View the Serious Eats recipe if you’re looking for something more like the original.


Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, finely diced to yield about a cup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • ½ cup dry white wine or Sherry
  • 1 quart water, plus more as needed
  • kale, a small bunch (4 ounces or so), thinly sliced
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano to taste (1 to 2 ounces or so)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (and save or compost). Rub flesh of squash lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, wide sauté pan, warm 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent, about five minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the farro and cook stirring constantly for another minute.
  3. Add the wine, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook until the wine is nearly gone.
  4. Add the 1 quart of water along with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium or low — you want the liquid to be gently simmering. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the farro grains have expanded and are al dente. 
  5. Meanwhile, pull the skin off the squash — it should remove easily. Purée the flesh in a food processor or blender until it’s silky smooth.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the kale: remove the stems and ribs from the leaves. Make stacks of the leaves, roll them into cylinders, and cut them into very thin ribbons. Wash and dry the kale if necessary.
  7. Extract the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the risotto and discard (or compost). Stir one cup of the squash purée into the risotto. Season with pepper to taste. Add a handful of the thinly sliced kale strips and a handful of parmesan. Stir until the kale is slightly wilted and incorporated.  Add more kale to taste. Stir, taste, adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or parmesan. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Keywords: farro, risotto, vegetarian, squash, butternut, kale