I know my last post was about how busy we are and how great quick recipes are at this time of year. That's still true. But I threw this complicated recipe on my menu (on a weeknight, no less!) because I just couldn't resist it any more. The fact that I had most of the ingredients on hand already sealed the deal. I spent a Monday evening laboriously chopping the hardest winter squash in the world (seriously - I don't usually have much trouble with them but this one was a doozy), then standing over the stove stirring and stirring.
Yes, it took up time I should have been spending on work. Yes, all that standing aggravated my injured foot. Yes, I nearly chopped several fingers off working on that squash. But you know what? Once we sat down to eat it was totally worth it. This was a bowl of creamy, complex, earthy deliciousness. So earthy, in fact, that Jeff couldn't believe there were no mushrooms. The squash was sweet, the hazelnuts crunchy and earthy, and the Gruyere added a nice bite. I don't think you could improve this dish. We got six servings out of this - three meals - and it got better with each one. This is not only a keeper, but it's worth some more of my precious pre-holiday time.
Farro Risotto with Winter Squash, Hazelnuts and Gruyere
From Cooking Light January/February 2012.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced and cleaned
1 c uncooked farro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
4 c water, divided
4 c cubed winter squash (the recipe calls for butternut, but I used a Golden Nugget that I had sitting around)
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 oz Gruyere, shredded
1/2 c hazelnuts
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and cook 5 minutes, until translucent and tender. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the uncooked farro and cook another minute, stirring constantly.
Stir in the wine and cook 2-3 minutes, until it evaporates. Add 1 c water and cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat for next 2 c water.
Stir in remaining 1 c water, squash, sage, salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, until squash is tender. Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the hazelnuts and toast, shaking frequently, until golden. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
When the risotto is done simmering, stir in the cheese and most of the nuts, reserving some to use as a garnish. Serve hot.