Saturday, December 7, 2013

Farroto with Roasted Kabocha Squash and Arugula

As promised, a roasted kabocha farroto from our Kansas correspondent.

If you have not tried kabocha yet, get thee to a grocery store. Unless you live in Sacramento. In which case, stay away from my squash.

A one-pound(ish) kabocha squash (a.k.a. Japanese pumpkin)
1 cup farro, rinsed and soaked for several hours
(soaking decreases the cooking time a bit)
3-4 cups veggie and/or chicken broth
1 large shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced into half rings
1.5 strip applewood smoked bacon, sliced
½ cup dry white wine
4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
2-3 handfuls baby arugula
4-6 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2-3 tbsp pine nuts
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated over a microplane
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Rinse the kabocha squash and pat dry. Cut the top out as you would when carving a pumpkin, then slice in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds, then slice both halves into even wedges (roughly 3/4" wide at the thickest part).

Drizzle a cookie sheet with olive oil, and arrange the squash wedges on the sheet, turning them over as you go so that both sides are lightly coated with olive oil. (Note that if you overcrowd, they won't brown well, so try to leave a little space between them.) Roast for 15 minutes, flip, and roast 10-12 minutes more or until lightly browned and tender without being squishy. Set aside to cool, then slice from the skins if desired (we like to leave the skin on about half the pieces—just make sure the skin you leave is smooth and unblemished) and cut into half-inch cubes.

Bring the broth to a boil in a smallish, covered pot, then turn down heat to low to keep warm.

Place a dutch oven over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil, then add the bacon. Once these have browned some, remove from the pot and set aside. (You can also discard a bit of the grease from the pan if you wish and replace with olive oil.)

Add the shallot and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent, then add half of the garlic and sauté for a minute more so that it softens without browning. Next, stir in the farro and sauté for several minutes. Once dry, add the white wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Then begin adding the broth by the ladleful as the liquid continues to be absorbed. Cook the farro in this way for about 30 minutes, or until the farro is not crunchy and the grains begin to open slightly.

Meanwhile, place a separate pan over medium heat. Toast the pine nuts till golden, shaking the pan frequently, then remove to a side dish. Add a glug of olive oil to the same pan and add the other half of the garlic. Sauté for a minute, just until soft, then add the sage and sauté for a few minutes more until the sage is very fragrant. Set aside with the pine nuts and bacon.

When the farro is cooked, stir in the arugula, then add the bacon, sage, and pine nuts. Microplane a small amount of Parmesan over the top. Last, add the kabocha and fold gently into the farroto, trying not to smoosh the squash completely so that some of the chunks are left intact. Turn off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.

Serves 2-4.

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