Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets takes all the earthy flavors of fall and winter and combines them into an easy side dish. Or allow it to chill, add some arugula and a light dressing for a hearty lunch.
Why Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets is the perfect fall/winter side dish?
First of all, because it has all of those wonderful earthy fall flavors, the nutty farro, vibrant sweet butternut squash, and earthy colorful beets. And since I used red beets, it turned the dish slightly pink, which helps promote Breast Cancer Awareness month...right? OK, that might be a stretch, but the flavors are still perfect.
What you need to make this recipe
- Butternut Squash
- Beets (of any color)
- Butter, salt, chopped parsly
- Toasted Nuts (optional)
What is Farro and is it Gluten Free?
Farro is an ancient grain.
Wheat, as we know it today, came from the same ancient grain.
So while Farro is not gluten-free, it is lower in glutenous proteins and can be eaten by many who ARE gluten intolerant.
What's the best way to cook farro?
You can cook the farro according to package directions.
OR use my method of cooking all grains, including rice unless I want it to be sticky rice; which is to cook all grains just like you would pasta.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the grain and boil until tender.
Pre-soaked farro will take about 20 – 25 minutes, un-soaked will take 30 to 35 minutes, and my fav, Trader Joe’s Instant Farro takes 10 minutes.
Once cooked to your al dente preference, drain and proceed with this, or any farro recipe you like. Cooked farro also holds well in the refrigerator; so you can make a big batch and then use it all week long in a bunch of different ways…breakfast, salads, even dessert.
Let's hear it for healthy beets
I think beets have a delicious sweet earthiness to them. Even if you are a person who says they don't like beets, I think you will like them in this presentation.
What are the Benefits of Beets?
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium which is essential for nerve and muscle function. They are also rich in manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
How to roast beets
To prepare; remove the tops and wash them well. Dry with paper towels and put into a large piece of foil, drizzle lightly with olive oil, then seal the package uptight. Put onto a cookie sheet and pop in a 400º oven, they will take about 25 minutes for smallish beets, and up to an hour for larger ones.
If your beets have a variety of sizes it's best to wrap them separately so you can remove the smaller ones when cooked allowing the larger beets to remain in the oven until ready.
Once the beets are cool enough to handle, using your fingers or a towel (that you don't mind staining pink), peel the skins off.
They will come right off. Yes, your hands might look pink for an hour or two, but a couple of good washing with soap will take care of that.
If you fear the pink, use some gloves. Then cut them into a dice about the same size as you did the butternut squash.
Butternut squash is a delicious fruit and interchangeable with pumpkin in many recipes.
It can be a little intimidating to cut the first time since it has such a strange shape, tough skin, and rolls easily.
So do what Lindy says to do with all round vegetables, cut the end off of the top and the bottom, making them flat.
Then you can either cut in half across the equator and then cut into halves laterally, this works very well for this recipe, OR, you can cut straight down, top to bottom, and then cut in half across.
Up to you. Although the first is easier than the second.
Remove the seeds and then remove the peel.
I find a sharp knife works best for peeling. Set the squash on the cutting board and follow the outline of the fruit with your knife, removing the skin. Then cut into about ½ to 1 inch thick slices and then into a dice.
"Wait, did I say fruit? Yes, butternut squash is techniquily a fruit."
Once you have the squash diced, put it onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt. With pieces of this size it won't take long to get them nice and soft, so you want to use a fairly hot oven, 400 to 425º so they get a little caramelization on them.
On to the finish line
Now that you have all your parts, cooked farro, roasted butternut squash, and roasted beets, it's a cinch to put the final dish together.
All you will need more is ⅓ cup chicken broth or use reserved cooking broth, to this dish vegetarian, a bit of butter or extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, some chopped parsley, and about ¼ cup of toasted walnuts or pecans, optional, but tasty.
Put the farro in a saucepan, add the broth and butter, cook for about 2 - 3 minutes or until hot, then gently stir in the squash and beets, cook 2 - 3 minutes or until they are hot and most of the chicken stock has been absorbed. Add the nuts, if using, and the parsley, stir them in and done. Ready to eat.
You could actually cook the beets hours before you make the dish.
Cook your beets early gives them time to cool down.
Once they are tender, remove them from the oven and open the foil so they can cool. While they are cooling, prepare the butternut squash.
Yes, those beets work well with this recipe. You could also use canned whole beets but the flavor won't be as intesnse.
I think that either Pearled Barley or Quinoa would work well in its place.
Yes, roasted acorn, pumpkin, or delicata squash would work.
Also for ease, you can buy pre-packaged diced butternut squash available at most grocery stores.
You can use either red or golden beets in this recipe. Using red beets will give the dish a beautiful "pink" tone.
Want to try more grain based salads/sides?
Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets
- 1 cup farro cooked according to your desired method
- ½ small butternut squash seeded, peeled and cut into about a ½ to ¾ inch dice
- 3 medium beets
- Extra virgin olive oil as needed
- ⅓ to ½ cup chicken broth or reserved "pasta" water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
- ¼ cup toasted walnut or pecan pieces optional
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 400°F.Place the beets onto a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Close to form a tightly sealed package; place on a cookie sheet and into the oven. Bake, 25 minutes to an hour, depending on size (you should be able to easily stick a toothpick or paring knife into the beet with no resistance). When tender remove from the oven, open the foil packet; allow the beets to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins, they should come off easily. Slice and then dice into ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
- Toss the butternut squash with a bit of oil and a dash of salt. Place on a cookie sheet and into the oven. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned, stirring once. Remove and set aside.
- Cook the farro according to package or Lindy's direction. Drain, (if using Lindy's method) and retain ½ cup cooking liquid if you choose not to use chicken broth to finish the recipe. Return the farro to the pot along with either the reserved cooking liquid or chicken stock, cook, stirring for 2 - 3 minutes (the liquid will be mostly absorbed ); stir in the butter, squash, beets and a bit of salt and pepper continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 2 - 3 minutes or until all is hot. Stir in the parsley and nuts, if using. Taste and adjust for seasoning, Serve.