When it comes to nudging up the “interesting” factor at dinner, I like to start with the side dishes. Let’s assume it’s another “rotisserie chicken night” — nothing wrong with that, we all do it, but to turn that humble bird into a real meal, you need a “wow” accompaniment. Something better than boxed macaroni and cheese or microwaved frozen vegetables. Warm Apple Butternut Farro is the answer.
This dish uses ingredients you probably have in the house — like apples, mushrooms and a hearty winter squash — and if farro isn’t currently residing in your pantry, you can certainly sub in brown rice or quinoa, even barley.
While the grains are cooking, saute the mushrooms in a skillet until they’re browned and transfer them to a small bowl, then start on the squash and onions. Saute until the onions are softened and slightly translucent and pour in the vegetable broth, diced apple and aromatics.
When the vegetables are tender and some of the liquid has evaporated, remove the cinnamon stick and add in the mushrooms (discarding any reserved liquid that has collected with the mushrooms), farro, the remaining rosemary and butter.
Some fresh parsley adds vibrant color. There’s so much going on in this dish that you could easily make it a vegetarian main course if you wanted — and of course, any leftovers would make a delicious lunch, with or without a few chunks of that leftover rotisserie.
Warm Apple Butternut Farro
This savory fall side dish goes great with a roast chicken and is way beyond the ordinary!
- 1 cup farro cooked according to package directions, kept warm
- 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 8 ounces mushrooms button or crimini, stems removed, sliced
- 2 cups diced butternut squash (cut into 1/2" dice) (about 1/2 of one squash)
- 1 cup diced onion about 1 medium onion
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons rosemary chopped, divided
- 1 cinnamon stick (can also use a small pinch of cinnamon)
- 1 cup vegetable broth preferably low sodium
- 1 medium apple peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons italian parsley chopped
Cook the farro according to the package directions. While the farro is cooking, prep the vegetables.
In a large 10" skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned and have given up their liquid, stirring occasionally, about 6-7 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a small bowl.
Add the remainder of olive oil to the pan. When it's hot, add the diced butternut squash and onions. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook until the onions are softened and translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary to the vegetables and cook until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick and vegetable broth to the squash mixture. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until squash starts to get tender.
Stir in the diced apple, cover and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes until the apple is tender, but not falling apart. Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
Stir in the cooked farro, mushrooms, remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and butter. Taste for seasonings adding salt or pepper if desired. Stir in parsley and transfer to a serving dish. Serve warm.
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