Roasted Butternut Squash with Autumn Grains, Browned Butter, Walnuts and Sage

October 28, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

My family celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving earlier this month, and for our holiday dinner I wanted to make a Thomas Keller recipe (from his wonderful cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home), Farro and Black Rice with Roasted Autumn Squash. But I soon realized that this recipe was way too involved for me to make for a holiday dinner. So I decided to simplify the preparation. In the end, I changed the recipe quite a bit, and it won raves from my guests. We served it with roasted halibut, but it would also go well with roast chicken or turkey. I would happily eat it as a main dish, too! If you didn't want to use farro, barley or wheat berries would be a nice alternative, but don't omit the black rice. Although traditionally used in Asian desserts, here it adds a sweet note that really balances the earthy flavors of the squash. Update for Best Vegetarian Side Dish: Just thought that for this contest I would play with the recipe a little bit more. I experimented with frying sage in the browned butter and liked the result. —cookinginvictoria

What You'll Need
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced onion, divided
  • 1 cup farro (regular or semi-pearled)
  • 1/2 cup Asian sweet black rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into approximately 3/4 inch pieces (I had about 4 cups of squash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In medium sized saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add 2/3 onion to pan and saute until golden. Add farro and stir until grains are coated with oil and onion. When farro smells toasty, add 1 3/4 cups water. After water begins to boil, turn heat down and simmer uncovered. Cook for 40 minutes, then turn off heat, and cover farro, letting it sit for about 10 minutes. All liquid should have evaporated from pan and farro should be tender to the bite. If water is still in pan, continue cooking for a few more minutes. (Note: I used regular farro; if you are using semi-pearled farro, it should cook in about half the time.)
  2. In small saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add 1/3 onion to pan and saute until golden. Add black rice and stir until grains are coated with oil and onion. When black rice smells nutty, add 3/4 cup water and put lid on pan. After water begins to boil, turn heat down to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes or until water has evaporated from pan and rice is tender.
  3. While the rice and farro are cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with sides with aluminum foil or parchment. Put squash on foil or parchment, drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over squash. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt on squash. Using hands or a big spoon, toss squash until well-coated. Put pan in oven and roast squash for 15 minutes or until tender and edges are starting to turn golden. Do not overcook. You don't want squash to be soft, just tender to the bite.
  4. In large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. When it turns a deep caramel color and smells nutty, add walnuts to pan and toss with butter. Saute for about one minute or until the nuts are smelling toasty and looking golden. Add sage leaves. After about a minute when sage starts to sizzle, add farro, black rice, and squash to skillet, stirring constantly until everything is coated with brown butter. Remove from heat. Add remaining salt and pepper to dish. Taste and add more if needed. Put in serving dish and serve immediately!

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In 2009, after living more than twenty years in NYC, my husband, young daughter and I packed up our lives and embarked on a grand adventure, moving to Victoria, B.C. There are many things that we miss about New York (among them ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh ravioli and New York bagels), but, I have to admit, that living in the Pacific Northwest has been pretty amazing food-wise. Now we have a yard with plum and apple trees, a raspberry and strawberry patch and a Concord grape arbor. I have a vegetable and herb garden, so I can grow at least some of our food. And we have an amazing farmer's market a block from our house. I love cooking (and eating) seasonally and locally. And it's been very rewarding introducing my daughter to cooking and eating, and teaching her where our food comes from.

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