Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farro and Butternut Squash

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

Coincidence??  Hmmm

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.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Farro Salad
Inspired by LaRosa’s cafe and Earthly Choice Farro

  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. While farro cooks, peel your squash and chop into bite size chunks.
  4. 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.

  5. Add in the thyme, cook for another 1-2 min, then add 1T of balsamic, and add in squash for the last minute.

  6. Take onion/squash mixture off the heat and pour over cooked Farro, along with the other 2T of balsamic.

  7. 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. 



  1. That sounds awesome! I am the same way with BN squash- peeling those things is a ridiculous pain in the behind! I don't think I've ever made farro at home? Gotta get on that. Hope you're having a good week

  2. My kind of salad!!! I need to try farro!

  3. Yes! I totally agree with this sentiment. I will admit that many of my best recipes are just copycats where I taste something fantastic at a restaurant and want to remake it at home.

  4. totally my kind of salad :) LOVE it!!

  5. I often get the urge to re-create restaurant meals at home too! I've never cooked with farro and want to try it, this sounds good!

  6. I've never had farro, looks like a delicious healthy meal!

  7. Haha, it would be so funny if the cafe was serving a recipe from the back of a farro bag!! Looks delicious :)

  8. I love that the recipe was on the back of the bag! Bret once told me his mom made the best apple crisp and he asked her for the recipe so I could make, yeah, it was Betty Crocker's recipe!

  9. I've never cooked with farro, but I adore butternut squash and goat cheese! I say you try the recipe on the bag next time and see if your suspicions are correct :)