Many of the outdoor farmers markets stay open into early November with beautiful fall fruit and vegetables. The winter squash elevates this dish and you can choose any type you like, although butternut squash is my favorite. You’ll roast the squash in the oven and then add the puréed flesh to finish your dish. Farro is a hearty wheat-based grain that has a rich, nutty flavor. It is a good source of fiber and protein. Look for the pearled farro or semi-pearled farro as the cooking time is less than cooking the whole grain. The process of making classic risotto involves slowly adding hot broth to the Arborio rice grains and letting the rice absorb the liquid. With this farro risotto recipe you can add all the liquid up front instead of a little at a time, to help the farro grains cook fully and evenly. Although not a classic risotto dish, the result is similar to a delicious creamy pasta and you can finish the dish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Rub the flesh of the squash lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the farro and cook stirring constantly for another minute. Add the wine, bay leaf, and thyme and cook until the wine is almost complete evaporated. Add the 4 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, you want the liquid to be gently simmering. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the farro grains have expanded and are al dente.
Meanwhile, pull the skin off the squash or scoop out the flesh. You can mash the flesh with a fork or purée it in a food processor or blender until it’s smooth. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the risotto and discard. Stir one cup of the squash purée into the risotto. Season with salt and pepper. Add a large handful of the kale and stir until slightly wilted. Finish with a generous sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning to taste.