Farrotto with Butternut and Porcinis

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This farro risotto is adapted from a Saveur recipe by Yewande Komolafe. I started my research after reading an autumn farrotto with butternut squash recipe in the New York Times. I have done mushroom farrottos and thought about combining the two. Some quick research revealed no such combination until, by chance, I stumbled on the Saveur recipe.

I was going to make it and abandon by own creation, but, as presented, is volume were off and fat was too high. 2 1/2 cups of squash, 1 cup of farro and 2 cups of mushroom seems heavy on the veggies, over-powering the inherent goodness of the farro. 3 tbsp of oil, 3 tbsp of butter 1 1/2 cups of parmesan and 1 tbsp of crème fraiche is much heavier than I like to cook. I decreased volumes and lightened the recipe: less oil, less butter, less cheese and non-fat Greek yogurt in place of the crème fraiche.

I used a homemade vegetable stock. I make my stocks, if I have the time, and only rely on store-bought in a pinch. Not only can I control the ingredients and thus the taste, but I can control the sodium. Even low sodium store-bought stock has way too much sodium. My homemade stock: zero added sodium. Today’s stock was made from veggies ready to find their way to the garbage disposer. I had leeks starting to age, celery that was getting limp, green onions that would only last a day or two more and left over Swiss chard from last night’s dinner. I add to that some carrots, peppercorns, and some frozen thyme and rosemary. 30 minutes later, I had enough stock for the farrotto plus plenty to freeze for future use.

Farro is tougher than arborio rice. You need to pre-cook it. Without the pre-cooking, you will be sautéing your farrotto forever. Cooking your farro, rehydrating your mushrooms and making your stock in advance will speed up preparation when guests are heading for your door.

Ingredients:
2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup farro
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig thyme, chopped
½ cup white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
2 tbsp. shredded or grated parmesan
1 tbsp. non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Place squash on a parchment lined baking sheet, lightly spray with an olive oil mister and season with fresh ground pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes until slightly brown. Remove from oven and reserve.

2. Meanwhile, add dried porcinis to a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water. Let rehydrate for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms, chop and reserve. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid straining carefully to remove sand and dirt.

3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan. Stir in farro and sauté until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain farro and reserve.

4. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add in the chopped porcinis and sauté about 3 minutes, remove from pan and reserve.

5. Melt additional 1 tbsp of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add in the shallots and cook until the shallots are slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the farro and stir, coating each kernel.

6. Add in the white wine, reduce heat to a simmer and let liquid simmer off, stirring occasionally.

7. Alternately between the vegetable stock and the mushroom rehydrating liquid, adding a 1/2 cup of liquid at a time and stirring occasionally until the farro has absorbed all the liquid, cook the farro for 25-30 minutes. After adding the last liquid, add salt and pepper to taste and add the mushrooms and roasted squash.

8. Fold in the cheese and stir until just melted. Fold in the Greek yogurt. Garnish with fresh sage.

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