It’s a beautiful dish that is really the epitome of fall in my book. The acorn squash really shines in the puree while the warm flavor of the farro plays second. We tested with Kandarian farro, Bob’s Red Mill, and ultimately used Bluebird Grain Farms farro. Each one acted a little different but I’ve made a note about that in the recipe.
If you wanted to make this gluten-free, switch back to the traditional arborio rice. Want to make it vegan? Swap out the butter/heavy cream in the puree for a nut cream.
Finally, don’t skimp on the toppings. The risotto is good but the toasted hazelnuts and the parsley really make this recipe. It’s worth it!
½ pound whole grain farro
½ medium yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small garlic clove, smashed
3 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup packed parsley
Zest from one lemon
⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts, for serving
Olive oil, for serving
Parmesan, for serving
- Two hours before making, place farro in a blender and pulse a few times to crack the grains slightly. You don’t want to create too much flour (or else you end up with porridge). Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and toast the grains- a couple minutes until the color deepens a bit and you can smell the grains. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water.
- While the grains are scalding, roast the acorn squash. I do this by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and placing the squash face down in a braiser. Add ¼” water and cover. Roast in a 400˚F oven until tender, usually about 30 to 40 minutes.
- After two hours, drain the grains. Heat a braiser, or large skillet with high sides, over medium heat. Also, place the broth in a pot and heat. Add the olive oil and add the minced onions to the braiser. Cook until fragrant then add the drained grains and add enough of the hot broth to cover the grains. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat the process until the grains are tender, 30 to 45 minutes (see note). You might use only a part of the broth, you might use it all.
- While the risotto is cooking, scoop the cooked squash out of the skin and place in a blender all with the remaining ingredients for the puree. When the farro is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the puree and cook until thickened slightly and hot.
- Chop the parsley and lemon zest together until it’s well minced and combined. Sprinkle over the risotto and finish with the toasted hazelnuts, drizzle of olive oil, and parmesan.
Timing for all of this will depend on a couple factors including which brand of farro you use and how much you crack it. It’s all a game and the best way you can tell if the risotto is done is by tasting. The grains will be tender but still slightly chewy.
Keywords: farro risotto, acorn squash risotto