Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Warm Farro Pilaf
I hope you are cooking with squashes this fall. Don’t miss the season to use these beautiful and versatile fall vegetables when they are at their best. This season I have been cooking especially with Sweet Dumpling squash. Unlike other varieties, this one is easy to cut: its skin is not as hard as some of the other varieties and your knife will not be permanently jammed into it’s flesh. Sweet dumpling is a lovely little specimen that cooks in no time and is delicious roasted. I am quite happy roasting it whole, halved or cut in wedges, dotted with a little butter and brown sugar and enjoyed just like that, but today I am going to stuff it with grains and serve it for lunch.
Farro goes well with the squash, adding a nutty flavour and chewy texture. Farro combines well with fruits and vegetables and is quick and easy to cook. The grain came into vogue a few years ago and all of a sudden everything was farro this and farro that. In reality farro is not new. It’s an ancient grain from Italy (where else?) growing there since Roman time where entire populations survived and thrived on it as a staple in their diet. Once it caught the attention of restaurant chefs it became readily available in the North American markets. In any event, I am glad it’s easily accessible and use it often in my cooking instead of rice, in soup, for breakfast instead of oatmeal, in salads, to stuff vegetables etc. It’s more chewy than other grains but delicious just the same.
Farro doesn’t need to be soaked before cooking. Just rinse, cover with water by a couple of inches and bring to a boil. Lower heat, simmer until done. Drain and then mix it with other ingredients. For this recipe I add cooked farro to a skillet with onion, garlic, cranberries, apricots and a handful of herbs. It’s quite nice spooned into the roasted squash and served warm.
2 sweet dumpling squashes, choose the more elongated ones for this recipe
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup farro
4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
A handful of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, fresh
1 tablespoon mint leaves, fresh
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400℉.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
Add a couple of pieces of butter to each squash and sprinkle with the sugar.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet, cover loosely with foil and roast in 400℉ oven until soft and cooked through.
In the last 15 minutes of the cooking remove the foil and finish the cooking uncovered.
For the farro pilaf:
Heat olive oil in a skillet.
Add onion and cook until softened.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add remaining ingredients and cook a couple of minutes
Add the farro and toss to coat.
Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Keep warm until ready to assemble the dish.
When the squash is ready remove from the oven, spoon the farro mixture into the squash and garnish with a little more parsley.
If you are not serving this immediately you can heat it up in the oven covered loosely with foil.