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Butternut Squash & Parmesan Farro Risotto

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This whole grain butternut squash & Parmesan farro risotto is creamy and delicious.  It’s made with brown butter-roasted butternut squash, sage, fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese.

A closeup shot of a white bowl filled with farro risotto. It has pieces of butternut squash and spinach and topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves

Make this flavorful butternut squash & Parmesan farro risotto for a healthier risotto alternative.  Spinach is mixed in for added nutrition for a wholesome comfort food recipe.   

What is Farro? 

Farro is an ancient wheat grain similar to Barley.  It’s often described as having a nutty flavor with a slight chewy texture. 

Farro Nutrition/Benefits:

  • High in Protein & Fiber
  • Nutrient Rich in Magnesium, Zinc and B-Vitamins
  • Loaded with healthy antioxidants
  • Low glycemic index making it ideal for diabetics because it’s digested slowly
A measuring cup full of farro grain, a bowl of cubed butternut squash, fresh spinach, and a wedge of Parmesan cheese

Risotto is one of my many guilty-food pleasures.  I especially love this butternut squash & Parmesan farro risotto because it’s creamy and cheesy without being toooo guilty since it’s packed with fiber and protein.  It’s the perfect side dish to pair with dinner!

Just like a classic risotto recipe, this farro risotto is made using the same exact cooking method.  The farro takes on the same texture as the Arborio rice that’s traditionally used.

A white bowl filled with creamy farro risotto with butternut squash and grated Parmesan cheese. There’s a fork next to the bowl and a piece of fresh sage leaves in the background.

Some helpful tips when making risotto (of any kind!)

  • Keep your broth heated in a small pan close to your main pan. If your broth is cold, it will take longer to evaporate and ultimately slow down the cooking process of the rice/grain in the risotto.
  • Don’t cover your risotto while it’s cooking.  You want the liquid to fully absorb into the rice and if you cover it, it won’t be able to evaporate. 
  • Risotto traditionally uses a bit of wine in the recipe. While the wine does add a dimension of flavor (and it’s my favorite choice!), it absolutely won’t ruin your risotto if you don’t use it!  Try a splash of red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or anything similar with acidity…this will still add the brightness to the dish that it very much needs
  • The whole process of risotto includes continually stirring the rice in between adding the broth. Be sure you don’t get lazy on this step because the stirring is what releases the starch and gives it that creamy texture!
A serving bowl filled with farro risotto with cubes of butternut squash and topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves

Butternut Squash & Parmesan farro risotto is a classy side dish that pairs well with fish, chicken or beef!  It’s made with whole grain for a healthy risotto twist that’s still creamy and delicious.

I hear from a lot of people that they don’t make risotto because they think it’s too hard to make.

Well I’m here to save the risotto world from this horrible, horrible misjudgment!

I will admit it does take time to make. It’s definitely not a quick 20 minute recipe, but that’s the hardest part of the whole process! (And for those workout buff outs there, you get some mean bicep muscles from all the stirring).

Okay, maybe it’s not THAT hard, but you do get a tinyyyy arm workout AND deliciously awesome creamy risotto.

Have you tried my warm fall quinoa salad? It’s another healthy grain recipe that uses brown butter and butternut squash (my favorite combination)

A closeup shot of a white bowl filled with farro risotto. It has pieces of butternut squash and spinach and topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves
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5 from 1 vote

Butternut Squash & Parmesan Farro Risotto

This whole grain butternut squash & Parmesan farro risotto is creamy and delicious. It’s made with brown butter-roasted butternut squash, sage, fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese.
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword dinnerrecipes, risotto, sidedishes, Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 as a side dish
Author Wine a Little Cook A Lot

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Butternut Squash peeled and cubed into ½” pieces
  • 6 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Sage chopped & divided
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 ½ cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth reduced sodium preferred
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 cup Farro
  • 1/3 cup White Wine see recipes notes
  • 2 cups Fresh Spinach chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated (see recipe notes)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Peel and discard seeds from your butternut squash; cut into small, ½” cubes and place in large bowl.
  • Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of fresh sage. Continue melting, until foamy and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. (You should see small brown specks and the butter should smell nutty).
  • Pour melted brown butter over butternut squash, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix to evenly combine. Spread evenly onto lined baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to a low simmer in a small sauce pan. Keep warm. (You can use the same saucepan you used for your brown butter!)
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a separate medium-large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper; stir and cook until onions are softened and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add farro and remaining 1 tbsp of fresh sage. Stir to combine and cook about 2 minutes.
  • Add in white wine, stir and cook 1-2 minutes until liquid is almost fully evaporated.
  • Ladle about ½ cup of the heated broth to your farro mixture and stir until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup portions of the broth and stirring until fully absorbed. Repeat this process until the broth is gone and the farro is fully cooked. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
  • 10. Stir in chopped spinach, cooked butternut squash, and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm.

Notes

*If you don’t have white wine, you can either leave it out altogether or use red wine vinegar or balsamic.
*I recommend using freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese for better flavor and quality.
*You may need to add more broth if your farro isn’t fully done cooking by the time the 2.5 cups of broth are used, or you may have some leftover broth if it’s done cooking beforehand.
*Feel free to substitute kale or another leafy dark green for the spinach.


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