Jan 7, 2013

Farro risotto with delicata squash and mushrooms

When I went to visit my father, who had just been released from the hospital, comfort food was definitely in order. Risotto came to mind, but it’s generally laden with butter and cheese – a big no-no for my family of heart disease sufferers.

Luckily, it’s easy to turn risotto from a “heart attack on a plate” to a nutritious meal. This farro risotto is the perfect example. It’s super comforting, but completely guilt-free! It’s got whole grains, vitamin-packed squash and mushrooms, and no dairy in sight.

I love the texture, too. The farro has the chewiness of barley, while the squash melts into the dish a bit, giving it a wonderful creaminess.  Every bite is sure to make you feel cheerier on a short winter’s day.

Farro Risotto with Delicata Squash and Mushrooms

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 delicata squash (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled and cubed
1 small fennel bulb
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion, diced
10 ounces mushrooms (shiitake, crimini or a combination)
1 1/2 cups pearled farro (can substitute barley)
1/2 cup vermouth
4 cups vegetable broth (plus more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or less if your broth is salty
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the base off the fennel bulb, cut a V-shape in the bottom to remove the core, and cube. Toss the squash and fennel with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Add the farro and sliced mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes.

Raise the heat, add the vermouth and cook until it has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add ½ cup broth. Simmer, stirring frequently, until it is absorbed. Repeat this with the remainder of the broth, in ½-cup increments. It should take about 25 minutes; the farro should be cooked through but al dente.

Add the roasted squash and fennel, and simmer for three minutes longer, stirring occasionally and adding more broth if the risotto seems too dry.

Add parsley and black pepper, and serve.

See more recipes: Entrees, Vegan


  • Sounds very comforting! We’re always looking for more recipes using shiitakes-could we share this recipe with our customers (with full credit, of course!)?

  • Of course, Jiff! Let me know what you think if you make it, too.

  • Love the combination of squash and mushrooms here. Looks very creamy and comforting.

  • Wendy

    Looks incredibly delicious, Cathy. Am jazzed to try it.

  • I’m horrible at cooking anything, but this looks pretty easy to accomplish. I have a few dopey questions tho:
    1) Can I use pre-cut and cubed butternut squash (like Trader Joe’s)?
    2) Would adding coconut oil or coconut cream create a more creamy texture?
    3) Can I make it and then leave it in the fridge overnight, to be served the next day?

    The 3rd question is key, because I’d like to make it for a dinner party I’m going to, but I work all day, so I was thinking of making it the night before and dropping it off at the hostesses house on my way to the office. Would it reheat well and still taste good?

    Thank you!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi Sandy. Let’s see. You can definitely used pre-cut squash, but those chunks are usually really large, so you might have to cut a bit. I don’t think I’d add coconut cream to this, but it’s not my thing so you can sure try it. You can definitely make it in advance and reheat. Good luck!

  • I have heart disease and would recommend your family reads Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. I have had bypass surgery and stents. All my watching what I ate and all the meds I took didn’t prevent my disease from progressing. I started the plant-based, no-fat diet in July, 2013 and have lost about 35 pounds and my cholesterol has lowered significantly. I am able to get around (walk) better. Good luck to you and your family. Please no oil , use only dry,vegetable broth, water etc”. We make our own Broth so it has no sodium.

    I will try this meal as it sounds very good.

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