Farro “Risotto” with Ham and Squash

farro risotto 2

12/29/17

We made a pasta salad for a family party this past weekend with a ton of charcuterie and marinated vegetables, so leftovers have invaded our refrigerator in the form of Costo-sized jars of olives and unreasonable hunks of cured meat.

Brainstorming what to do with the abundance from the weekend, I fell back on my foolproof method: take all your leftover veg/meat, combine them with a carb (rice, pasta, pizza) and tie everything together with a unifying sauce.
Risotto is the creamiest way to do that. While I love traditional risotto, we rarely have arborio rice in our house and we prefer the nutty, chewy wholesomeness of brown rice or farro. Farro risotto, or “farrotto” as Bob (from Bob’s Red Mill) calls it on the back of the bag, is still as warming and rich as the traditional variety with an extra dose of nutritious goodness. It takes longer to cook and doesn’t achieve the same lushness that a starchier grain would produce, but it is hearty, satisfying, and unbelievably good.
This dish was definitely in the Dad Danger Zone, but I called it “Cheesy Ham Risotto” to reel it back it safety. If you’re trying to convince any children or elderly males in your household to try something new, give it a familiar label. He tried it, praised it as “pretty good,” and went back for seconds. (Dad ranks food from bad to good as “meh”, “fine”, “pretty good”, and “yumbonie.”) Mom and I both ranked it much higher, but I’ll take what I can get from the pickiest eater in the house. Any meal that achieves this level of recognition from Dad literally gets a page in my book.
farro risotto 1

What you need

  • 4-6 cups chicken broth (use water if you don’t have enough broth)
  • 1-2 cups apple cider
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1-2 diced bell peppers
  • 1 medium acorn squash, peeled and diced
  • I TB chopped rosemary
  • 1.5 cups farro (soaked overnight)
  • 1/2cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 TB butter
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 TB balsamic vinegar

What you do

-Bring vegetable stock and apple cider to a low simmer and keep warm. I happened to have apple cider left over from the holidays but just use water or more chicken broth if you don’t have any. I’ve made this without the apple cider before and just added a little extra salt and honey to impart similar flavors to this dish.

-Sauté onion, pepper, and acorn squash (season with about a teaspoon of salt) in olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped rosemary.

-Add farro and stir until coated with oil and beginning to release a nutty fragrance, about 2 minutes.

-Add white wine and let cook down until almost all liquid has been absorbed.

-Using a ½-cup ladle, add warm stock to the farro, one ladle at a time, stirring until all liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle. Cook farro, adding stock as needed, until farro has opened and softened, about 30 minutes.

-15 minutes before cook time ends, add ham.

-Off heat, stir in butter, parm, and balsamic vinegar.

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