farro with roasted butternut squash and toasted walnuts

November 13th, 2007 · 10 Comments

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a friend dropped in tonight, detouring just slightly off the path of an israeli couscous buying excursion.  i had offered to cook for her and i was fortunate that she was agreeable because these days i seem to feel an undefined obligation to ‘nablopomo‘ my life away, relentlessly chained to both the kitchen and the computer simultaneously (a.k.a. my usual life), and with the need to cook. 

my friend is a vegetarian which is a pretty comfortable genre for me.  my life consists quite happily of numerous meatless days.  at the beginning of this year i was a raw vegan for a solid 4 months – just because.  and now i’m not.  but i could be again.  you just never know with me.

i believe one of the most impressive food bloggers that exists hands down is heidi from ’101 cookbooks‘.  her recipes are always impeccable, her photography is true art and her voice is kind and real.  and she’s a vegetarian.  so today i wandered around her site until i spotted our dinner.  i had everything i needed except a slice of montrachet, fresh thyme and a red onion.  perfect.

i am the proud owner of a 5.5 lb. bag of semi-pearled farro from market hall.  i’d seen that it was on “sale”, if only minorly - and i decided to stock up.  i’m growing quite fond of this nutty, chewy little spelt like grain.  i also just happened to have on my counter one of my infamous csa butternut squashes just begging to get used.  i’m thinking csa veggies somehow have a greater guilt attached to them.  these vegetables know they were a challenge to begin with and to remain unused is to, quite frankly, reduce you to a failure as a cook.  all that to say, my kitchen has been a tough room these past few months.

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i read heidi’s post carefully, in the end making only a few small adaptions.  i upped the fresh thyme, scaled down both oils and added a few grinds of black pepper. and i never minced some of the onions after they roasted – but that was only because i forgot.  once i had my mise en place i never referred back to the recipe or measured a thing.

i began by deeply toasting the walnuts in a 350 degree oven until they were fragrant and well browned.  when cooled they were roughly chopped and set aside.  then i put the oven up to 375 and began to prepare the vegetables for roasting.  the squash was cut into 1/2 inch cubes, the red onion sectioned into eighths and it all went on a baking sheet with maldon salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  i ended up using my ‘whole foods ’365′ spanish olive oil’ rather than the yellingbo pictured since i was just roasting and the subtleties of a great olive oil would be lost in the heat of the moment.

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the vegetables needed about 20 minutes, tossing twice to make sure they were getting browned on all sides, and out they came.

my semi- pearled farro was soaked in water for 20 minutes, then drained and boiled in fresh water for about 20 more and drained again.  the farro and the vegetables were then added to a mixing bowl along with some salt, pepper, the chopped walnuts and some walnut oil.

the farro and roasted vegetables then got plated with a sprinkling of fresh thyme and some good montrachet.  the beauty of this dish for me, was that in all it’s rustic versatility, it was a flawless blend of ingredients.

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a testament to mother nature and her infallible sense of style…

Tags: farro · vegetables

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amy // Nov 14, 2007 at 7:52 am

    This sounds like such a winning combination, just perfect for this time of year. I have no farro, though, and my pantry grain/pasta shelf is already overflowing — do you think kasha might work instead?

    And I’m with you all the way on Heidi — “kind and real” is a perfect description. Her photos are swoon-worthy and a total inspiration.

  • 2 Dan // Nov 14, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Okay, so this has been featured in 2 foodie blogs I read. Guess I have to get some butternut squash. Maybe I’ll add that as my second contribution to Turkey Day dinner.

  • 3 ElZorro // Nov 14, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Wasn’t the taste of red onion a tad too sharp, or did it balance the ‘earthiness’ of the farro?

  • 4 claudia // Nov 14, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Z – not even in the slightest. if anything they are slightly sweet due to the caramelization process in the roasting.

  • 5 Maffy // Nov 14, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Was this a meal you were able to eat or was it still just cook/not eat? I am finding, though, that the sensation of going to bed hungry instead of full is starting to grow on me. I’m rooting for you (and me)!

  • 6 Lesley // Nov 14, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Forgive the tardiness of my official online thank you. It was a great meal with great company!

    And ElZ, the onions–once cooked–were delicious; I don’t typically like red onions, but the balsamic vinegar not only made them palatable, but good (perhaps Panera could take a lesson on how to prepare red onions from Heidi and Claudia).

    And I’m so happy to have lunch today, too!

  • 7 Jennifer Hess // Nov 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Beautiful. We had farro last night, too.

  • 8 claudia // Nov 14, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    amy – love heidi. no doubt. but that jennifer of ours? she is the real deal for cooking great food day in and out. i bow to her… hands down she is the one i totally respect in the kitchen the absolute most.

    maffy – i ate. it was good. i regreted it. so today i pay. gonna barely touch a thing… oy.

    lesley – i think you’re terrific. glad to know you.

    jennifer – why am i thinking that your farro could so kick my farro’s ass?

  • 9 lcreekmo // Nov 16, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    With many shopping trips in my near future, I am getting whatever I don’t have to make this dish. Looks superb.

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