Unlike other members of the wheat family, farro (Italian for "emmer wheat") hasn't gotten as big of a push into the spotlight, although it has started to appear on menus in soups and salads. It also isn't stocked as widely, considering that all authentic farro comes directly from Italy, and availability is limited to gourmet and health food stores. Don't let that stop you, however—this grain cooks quick like rice, and has an earthy, nutty taste, not unlike oats. If you're hankering for some warm risotto these cold winter nights, try switching it up with this farro risotto with butternut squash, ham, sage, and toasted walnuts recipe.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped leeks or onions
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 2 cups grated butternut squash (about 1/2 pound)
- 2 cups diced country ham (4 to 6 ounces)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus more for garnish and to pass at the table
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften but do not brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Stir the farro into the leeks and continue cooking until the farro is lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates, about a minute.
3. Stir in 2 cups of the broth, 2 tablespoons of the fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried, and the squash. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the mixture becomes thick, about 10 minutes.
4. Gradually stir in the remaining broth, each time returning to a boil, then reducing to a simmer, until the mixture thickens.
5. After the farro has cooked for a total of 20 minutes, begin tasting for doneness. When it is tender but still chewy, stir in the ham.
6. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Parmesan, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into shallow bowls. Garnish individual portions with the remaining fresh sage and a light dusting of parmesan. Serve immediately.