It seems like a busy work schedule, frustratingly tiny kitchen, and, to be honest, sheer laziness, has kept me from posting for the past six months or so. In that time, I’ve been all over the map with my dinners…sometimes I make something so simple, it doesn’t seem worth it to post about it. Other times, I loosely follow recipes printed from Pinterest and elsewhere across the web, but, by the time I finish eating and cleaning up, I’m in no mood to type about the process. Still other times, I come up with something totally off the top of my head, but, yet again, I don’t get around to posting about it and forget about it after a week or two. In this case, this meal was the last of those three—something I came up with just looking at what I had in the fridge—and it was just too good not to share, so I really wanted to make sure I posted about it.
I bought cubed butternut squash on a whim last weekend—it was bright orange (and thus very visible in the produce section) and it was on sale, so I grabbed it, with not a clue what to make with it. I gave it some thought after I returned home…I knew I didn’t want to use it in pasta, but something nutty, like farro, seemed like something that would pair well with it. Chicken was easy enough to throw in, plus a little onion and garlic for flavor, and a little paprika and cinnamon for heat and sweet. Add in a few heaping handfuls of spinach and some freshly grated Gruyere and I had a wonderful, hearty, winter dinner.
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: Approx. 30-40 minutes
- Approx. 1/2 cup farro, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 chicken breast, cubed and seasoned
- Approx. 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1/2 yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-5 handfuls of baby spinach
- Shredded/grated Gruyere cheese
- Seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon (just a pinch, to bring out the sweetness of the squash), pepper, salt, paprika
- Olive oil
- Chicken stock and/or sweet cooking wine (sherry or marsala), for deglazing
Cook farro according to package instructions (the brand I used cooked for approx. 30 minutes, so I was able to cook everything else up while it was cooking). Heat a little butter and olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook until just done, then set aside and cover. Add a little more butter to the skillet, and a splash of chicken stock and/or wine to deglaze the pan, then add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the butternut squash and spinach, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes, lifting lid occasionally to stir and add seasoning. As the farro is in its last minutes of cooking, add the minced garlic to the vegetable medley and toss the chicken back in to reheat. The onion and butternut squash should be tender when done. Serve the mixture on top of the farro and top with Gruyere cheese.
This dish is the perfect dish for the cold autumn and winter months: it’s hearty, warm, peppery, cheesy, and nutty. The butternut squash is the real star—it’s tender, like cooked zucchini, and has a buttery savory-sweet flavor that adds a twist to this dish. Adding a pinch of cinnamon adds warmth and depth of flavor to the dish, while pepper, paprika, and garlic add a little heat. Farro has this wonderful honeyed, nutty flavor with a unique chewy texture, somewhere in between rice and pasta, and it makes the perfect base.