Roasted Acorn Squash with Farro, Kale and Apples

Roasted Acorn Squash, Farro, Kale, Apples, Italian culture, Italian heritage, Italian american, Italian news, Italian traditions

Roasted Acorn Squash with Farro, Kale and Apples

 

As the new year dawns, my body, as if on queue, begins to crave lighter, healthier foods after all the (wonderful) excesses of the holiday season.
 
Visions of sugar plums are replaced with visions of healthy grains and veggies, like beautiful Tuscan kale or crunchy toasted farro.  I drool over photos of crisp lemony salad or simply simmered chickpea soup.  Social media and email is awash with photos of beautiful lighter meals ready to help us sweep out the old and cast that first glimpse towards the spring weather ahead. 
 
And our local winter CSA is happy to oblige.  I leave with sacks filled with oddly shaped root vegetables, squash twisted in all shapes and sizes and proud leafy kale, in numerous varieties.  I challenge myself each week to try to use my haul in new and different ways.  I normally pass by the majority of the root vegetable bins at the market but now, awash in stubby rutabagas and misshapen celery root, I am forced to use my winter bounty.  Rutabaga fries?  Delicious! Celery root puree? Amazing under a pile of garlic sautéed shrimp.  
 
This week, I scored armloads of squash – graceful crookneck squash and brightly colored acorn squash.  Time to do some roasting! After piling my haul of squash, kale and apples on the counter, I decided to roast my acorn squash and stuff them with a farro, kale and apple filling. You could also make this as a farro risotto with the squash cubed and roasted alongside the apples and tossed into the cooked farro.  Either preparation makes for a delicious and soul-warming meal. 
 
And don’t toss all those delicious and nutritious seeds from inside the squash – just toss with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a healthy dose of salt and roast until toasty. And extra special treat from winter’s amazing bounty.  Buon Appetito! 
 
Roasted Acorn Squash with Farro, Kale and Apples
 
Ingredients: 
For the squash and apples
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 acorn squash
• 1 apple
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
 
For the stuffing: 
• ½ bunch kale, preferably lacinato (Tuscan) kale 
• 1 cup farro
• About 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 large shallots, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Sliced almonds or pine nuts, toasted
 
Preparation:
Roast the squash and apples:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Remove from heat. Slice the squash in half. Remove and clean the seeds and fiber.  (You can roast the seeds separately sprinkled with a bit of salt – they make an excellent and nutritious snack!).  Brush the melted butter over the flesh of the cut squash.  Place the squash halves cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until tender.  While the squash is roasting, core and seed the apple. Slice into ¼ inch thick slices.  Toss with any remaining melted butter.  Place the apple slices on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven during the last 8-10 minutes of squash roasting.  You want the apples to still have a nice crunch so check for doneness starting at about 5 minutes.  Remove from oven. 
 
Prepare the stuffing:  
Clean the kale by removing the large center stems. Tear the leaves. Cook the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, just a few minutes.  Transfer to a bowl filled with ice water. Allow to cool. Drain. 
Soak the farro in a medium bowl with about 4 cups of cold water.  Soak for 30 minutes. Drain. 
Warm the stock in a stockpot and keep warm over low heat.
 
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add in shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Season with ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the farro and cook, stirring constantly until toasted and coated in oil, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the white wine and stir until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add ½ cup of the warm broth and stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup of the broth at a time, allowing the broth to absorb between additions, until farro is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes. 
Dice the apple slices into bite –sized pieces.  Stir into the farro mixture along with the drained kale.  Stir to combine.  Adjust salt and pepper. 
 
To assemble: 
Fill squash halves with the farro, kale and apple mixture. Sprinkle with roasted almonds or pine nuts and serve! 
 
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Italian. Together, from opposite coasts, they co-author the blog OurItalianTable.com

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