Do you ever taste something at a restaurant or cafe and immediately think: “mmm this is really good! I need to re-create this at home!”
I had multiple occurrences of this a few weeks ago. I was grabbing lunch with some co-workers at this little cafe. They serve sandwiches, salads, and also had various prepared salads that you could order by the pound. We shared a few of the different prepared salads, and with every bite I took I was taking note (literally, on my phone) of what I could taste.
The first one that I have re-created here was a Farro and Butternut Squash salad. I knew it was dressed with at least Balsamic vinegar (I asked), but other than that I felt like I could taste caramelized onions and an herb, which I thought was sage.
Based on the ingredients, you’d think I should have saved this for the fall…and I very well will be making this again come September, but it’s best served cold so therefore it can also be a delicious summer meal as well.
The first thing I did earlier in the day was roast my squash. I’m not a big fan of even trying to peel a raw butternut squash, so I prefer to slice it in half and roast until tender.
Later when I went to finish the dish, I noticed on the back of the Farro bag was a recipe for… Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash!
The recipe on the bag included balsamic, onions, AND thyme (not sage, but sage was a guess). Interesting…either total coincidence, or that cafe buys the same brand of Farro that I did.
The recipe on the bag has you roast the squash, peeled and chopped, with the onion, thyme, balsamic, olive oil…etc, however as I already cooked my squash I went in a different direction.
- 1 small butternut squash
- 2T olive oil
- 2 cups Farro, rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock (0r use all water)
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 3 T balsamic vinegar
- Goat Cheese for topping
- Slice whole butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop seeds out, and place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush with 1T of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I like to add water to my pan while roasting. Add about 1/4” water to pan.
Roast at 375 for 40-45 min, or until fork can easily be inserted into thickest part of squash.
Set aside to cool. This step can be done a day a head of time. Wrap cooked squash in plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready.
- Combine water, broth, farro, and a big pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low/med and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 min until farro is tender. Drain and set aside.
- While farro cooks, peel your squash and chop into bite size chunks.
- Heat other 1T of olive oil over med/med-low heat and add onion. You want to caramelize the onion, so you want to cook over a lower heat for a long time. You don’t want to brown your onion, so keep an eye out and adjust temperature on your stove so it isn’t too high. Cook for 12-15 min until soft and starting to turn golden.
- Add in the thyme, cook for another 1-2 min, then add 1T of balsamic, and add in squash for the last minute.
- Take onion/squash mixture off the heat and pour over cooked Farro, along with the other 2T of balsamic.
- This dish can be served warm or cold, and best with some crumbled goat cheese on top!
I also enjoyed this served a top of a bed of baby spinach, with a splash of more balsamic and olive oil. The onions and squash give such a nice sweetness that pairs really well with the tangy vinegar. I love the texture and bite of the farro as well.
This also held up great for the next couple of days in the fridge.