Announcing the winner of the Zuni Café Cookbook giveaway and, separately, the Least Judgmental Vegetarian award.
First things first. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the Zuni Café Cookbook giveway. I loved reading your stories in the comments. Many of you really deserve this cookbook, and I only wish I had dozens of them to give away, or at least that I weren’t a mildly neurotic former lawyer who would only ever dream of choosing the winner based on a random number generator. That said, I’m very happy to announce the randomly chosen winner. Congratulations to Amy, aka commenter number 27. Amy, I hope you’ll love this book as much as I do!
Speaking of winning, there’s a little something I need to tell you about this week’s recipe.
Or maybe I don’t need to tell you, since you’ve already seen the picture. The ugly truth is, well, the ugly truth. This dish will not be winning any beauty contests—both because of its, shall we say, somewhat homely appearance and because frankly I think it’s a little too grounded to enter a beauty contest in the first place. The good news is that here at Umami Girl, although we do not go out of our way to model ourselves on your high school yearbook, we sometimes achieve that result nonetheless. And like any self-respecting high school yearbook, we also give awards on the basis of Senior Superlatives, such as Most Autumnal, Best All-Around, Least Judgmental Vegetarian, and Most Laid-Back. (Okay, maybe not most laid-back, but I always liked that one.)
Roasted Acorn Squash with Farro Stuffing would totally clean up in those categories. Flecked with caramelized onions, apple and dried fruit, it’s sweet like your first crush. Laced with a touch of fresh goat cheese, it’s funky in all the right ways, like that chick who got voted to paint the mural in the senior hallway. Farro is that friend who, even at the tender age of fifteen, could comfort and challenge in equal measure and never had to ask which you needed. And nestling it all together in a cradle of nutty acorn squash? That, my friends, is what superlatives are all about. You can keep your beauty contests. The squash is spoken for.
Roasted Acorn Squash with Farro Stuffing
-serves 4 to 6-
3 medium acorn squash
A bit of real maple syrup
1 Tablespoon butter, plus more for dotting squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 large sweet onions
1 1/2 cups dry semi-pearled farro
2 medium apples, cored and diced (peel on)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries, chopped
2 Tablespoon fresh sage, minced
2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Rub a little bit of maple syrup onto the exposed flesh of each half, and place a dot of butter into each half. Roast until tender, about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions along with a good pinch or two of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and reduced to a shadow of their former size. This will take much of the hour that the squash are roasting.
3. While the squash and onions are cooking, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farro and cook for ten minutes. Drain.
4. When the onions have caramelized, add the farro, apples, and wine to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Add the chicken broth along with the dried cherries or cranberries and the sage. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese.
5. Fill the squash halves with the stuffing. The stuffing will absorb any butter and syrup pooled in the squash, and you’ll be glad it did. Serve hot.