Farro with Red Kuri Squash and Leeks (Plus easy kale chips)

The beauty of this recipe lies in its effortless presentation of sumptuous fall flavors.  When I was living in Paris I fell in love with potimarron, a small pumpkin-looking squash that was very popular among Parisians, and which I adored cooking with.  So much so that during the month of October I think my go-to dinner was simply cooked potimarron with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

I was ecstatic when I saw some potimarron, or red kuri squash, at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange today, mainly because they are the perfect size for one person! Red kuri squash has a distinct chestnutty flavor that comes out beautifully when the squash is roasted or braised.  I paired it with leeks and some chopped parsley in this recipe, but I definitely believe that you should add your personal touch and change this recipe based on what you have on hand.  It is very flexible, and cooking farro in this way gives you a sort of carte blanche to do with it what you want.

My only regret while making this dish is that I didn’t make more.  I would be thrilled to have some of this goodness waiting for me in the fridge on a day when I don’t feel like cooking.  If you decide that you want to double the recipe, you can do that very easily:  keep all amounts the same, just up the broth to 2 cups, and the farro to 2/3-cup.  You may want to add more chopped parsley and fresh parmesan cheese.

If you can’t find red kuri squash, which is a sad but realistic truth, you can easily substitute acorn squash.  Although in this case you won’t achieve the mind-blowing chestnut flavor, so I sincerely hope you succeed in finding red kuri!

Lastly, I’m including a recipe for the easiest (and maybe the healthiest) chips on the planet: kale chips, made from the fresh leafy greens that become crispy, tangy, and delightful when roasted.  I’ve wanted to try them for a while, and after seeing an easy recipe on SarahFit’s Tumblr page I decided to give it a try.  You can just toss them in the oven at the same time as the red kuri squash, since they cook for about as long.  I know 2 cups of kale chips seems like a lot, but it’s really not – I ate them all in one sitting, and I didn’t even feel bad about it!

Please give me any feedback you have – did you substitute the leek or squash for another vegetable?  The more ideas the better, so please leave comments!

Farro with Red Kuri Squash and Leeks – serves 1
1 red kuri squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 leek, green stalks and stem removed, rinsed, and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3-cup pearled farro
1/4-cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Toss red kuri with 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown sugar on a lined baking sheet.  Bake in oven until soft and slightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to simmer in a small saucepan.
4.  In another small saucepan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
5.  Add onion and stir until softened, 3-4 minutes.
6.  Add leek and cook until silky and softened, about 8 minutes.  Gently break apart leek rounds with a wooden spoon.
7.  Add farro, and toast in saucepan for 1 minute.
8.  Add white wine, and cook until all liquid is evaporated.
9.  Add one ladle full of broth and simmer, reducing heat as necessary, until broth is absorbed.  Continue adding ladles of broth until farro is fully cooked, making sure that each ladle full is absorbed before adding another, about 18 minutes.
10.  Once farro is fully cooked (you can cover pot for five minutes to ensure doneness), add red kuri cubes.  Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add additional parmesan if desired.
Easy Kale Chips – makes about 2 cups
1 bunch fresh kale, stems removed and leaves torn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss kale with oil, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper on a lined baking tray.
3.  Cook until kale is crispy, tossing once halfway through cooking time, about 15 minutes.