The phrase I look forward to hearing every year goes something like this: "It sure is getting cold out there…" While I don’t love being out in the cold weather, I love being inside when it’s cold out. Why? I love warm, cozy meals. The winter weather gives me an excuse to cook comfort food! When fall and winter roll around, I have staple meals that I always serve, and they usually repeat certain ingredients. One of my favorite standby ingredients? Butternut squash. It’s so versatile, and always makes for a great side dish. So when we developed the recipe for Farro, Kale & Butternut Squash Gratin in the Test Kitchens, I was all over it. It has all the makings of a warming, comforting side dish, but stays trendy with the addition of kale and farro.
What is farro, you might ask? Farro is a whole grain, with a nutty flavor that is sometimes compared to other grains such as barley and oats. It looks somewhat like a brown rice kernel, but is chewier and more substantial than rice. I love how it almost has a pasta-like texture, but is healthier due to the fact that it is a whole grain. You can find farro in the grain aisle at your grocery store, and you can also find it in a microwaveable pouch which makes for an even easier prep:
But enough about the "healthiness"…it’s also incredibly delicious. Here’s how you make it:
Heat your oven to 375°F, and spray an 8-inch glass pan with no-stick cooking spray.
Combine cheese and milk in a saucepan, and stir until it is melted and smooth. If you haven’t tried our 4-Cheese Italian Blend yet, you are missing out! It is one of my favorites – with all of the delicious flavor from natural cheeses and the meltability of American. Can’t beat it!
Next, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet until sizzling.
Add the onions and cook until softened.
While the onions are cooking, get your kale ready. I have found the easiest way to get kale off of the stem is to run your fingers up the stem, pushing upwards.
Roughly chop the kale, add to the onions…
and stir until it is wilted. Season with salt and red pepper.
Next, stir in the cooked farro, raisins and squash. Raisins might seem like a strange addition, but they add a sweetness that complements the butternut squash nicely.
Now, pour the delicious cheese sauce over the farro mixture and stir until well coated.
Now spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, butter and Italian seasoning in a bowl.
Sprinkle over the squash mixture in the baking dish. This topping adds a nice crunch to the dish.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. How delicious does this look?
Farro, Kale & Butternut Squash Gratin is a perfect side dish to serve on a cold night – try it for your next meal and see for yourself.