During the colder months of the year, I generally have a hard time getting excited for salads (like, even more than usual.) I’m craving something warm, comforting and hearty when it’s chilly outside, and the thought of eating cold lettuce could not be less appealing. I found a little trick – if I throw in a healthy grain and make it warm, what would normally be a boring “salad” becomes a colorful, filling, flavorful bowl of comfort food. I’ve been experimenting with different vegetables on my quest to eat more seasonally. Lucky for us, winter gives us some REAL GOOD stuff to work with. Butternut squash, kale & Brussels sprouts are at their peak this month, so I decided to take a stab at creating a delicious bowl of goodness featuring these three winter all-stars, along with whatever else I had in my fridge. The result did not disappoint, and my favorite thing about this recipe is that you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also it’s vegetarian, making it a great option if you’re looking to cut back on meat without sacrificing flavor or general happiness.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
- Farro – I just became acquainted with this grain in the last year, and I am obsessed with it’s nutty taste and its overall versatility. It has a bit more substance and texture than quinoa, plus it’s packed with fiber & protein. LOVE.
- Butternut Squash – I’d been intimidated by this veg until recently, mostly since I couldn’t understand how to cut it (embarrassing). After overcoming my laziness, I’ve realized it’s not hard to prepare at all. It’s also an amazing source of fiber, and it’s texture/flavor reminds me of sweet potato in that it can be sweet or savory and makes any dish feel more substantial & filling. I have SO many good recipes with this to share in the future!
- Kale – Kale is obviously a superfood and is another easy way to get in fiber (if you can’t tell, I’m a big advocate of eating all of the fiber). It’s also filled with tons of antioxidants + anti-inflammatory properties. I love the way the lemon squeeze brightens the flavor of the kale in this dish, and adds an extra boost of detoxifying goodness.
- Brussels Sprouts – Guys, I love Brussels Sprouts. One of my biggest life accomplishments is getting my husband to love them almost as much as me. I love them in all forms (raw, sauteed, roasted, fried – I have no limits) and they literally add texture & FIBER to any recipe. They’re also packed with Vitamin C – so good for keeping your immune system 100 during these chilly months.
- Pecorino Romano – I try to cook without dairy as often as possible (because I LOVE cheese so try to save it for when I’m dining out), but this is honestly the stand-out of this dish. This is a sheep’s milk cheese that’s similar to parmesan (which is a cow’s milk cheese) but a little sharper & tangier. Sheep’s milk cheeses are way easier to digest than cow’s milk, making it a great choice if you’re sensitive to lactose like me. I love the way the pecorino brings out the flavors of the vegetables, how it melts into the little crevices of the farro & brightens up the entire dish with the taste of the lemon.
This recipe is so versatile and could easily be modified with other ingredients you have on hand. Substitution ideas include:
- Spinach instead of kale (it’s also in season!)
- EVOO instead of coconut oil
- Quinoa or brown rice instead of farro (this would make it gluten-free)
- Sweet potato instead of butternut squash (SP’s are also in season)
- Manchego, goat cheese, or feta instead of Pecorino Romano. These are all sheep or goat’s milk cheeses, so also safe if you’re lactose-sensitive. If lactose isn’t an issue for you, good ole parmesan works great here, too.
- If you’re craving animal protein, you can also add chicken apple sausage or turkey sausage. My husband generally needs some kind of meat to make his meal feel “complete,” so if you’re the same way, these are easy additions.
I’ll definitely be making more variations of this in the future, but if you try it yourself let me know what you think!
Warm Winter Farro with Butternut Squash + Kale
*Note: This can easily be multiplied if making for a group or for meals throughout the week.
- 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash
- 1 cup organic kale
- 1 cup brussels sprouts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup red onion
- 2 tbsp raw organic coconut oil, divided
- 1/4 cup farro, uncooked (or 1/2 cup cooked)
- 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 egg, fried
- 1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp (or more, no judgment here) Pecorino Romano
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon squeezed)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a small saucepan, combine farro and about 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover & cook for about 25 minutes. Once cooked, drain any excess water and set aside.
- While oven continues to pre-heat and farro cooks, peel & cut your butternut squash (unless you bought pre-chopped – in which case, I respect that.)
- If you’re unsure how to tackle cutting this monstrosity of a vegetable, I was too, and this helped me.
- Place butternut squash in a medium bowl. Coat with 1 tbsp melted coconut oil and season with salt, pepper & dried rosemary.
- Spread on a greased baking sheet & roast 25 minutes. Once roasted, remove from oven and set aside.
- If you roasted the whole squash, stash your leftovers in a Tupperware to enjoy in salads or bowls throughout the week. You can even use it to make a vegan “cheese” sauce. I like this one.
- While the squash is roasting, prep the rest of the veggies:
- Wash & dry all the fresh vegetables.
- Tear the kale leaves off the stems, remove ribs & rough chop (or just tear).
- Mince your garlic & small dice your red onion.
- Thinly slice your green onion.
- Chop your Brussels. I like to slice them pretty thin, but just sliced in half works just fine!
- Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (nonstick if you have it.) Add garlic & red onion, and cook until fragrant / until the onions start to sweat, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add Brussels & kale. Season with salt & pepper, and squeeze 1/2 lemon over the mixture. Stir until kale is wilted and Brussels are lightly browned on each side, about 4 minutes.
- Add the roasted butternut squash and cooked farro to the skillet. Stir until all ingredients are combined and warmed through. S & P to taste.
- Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with pecorino romano (or cheese of choice.)
- While skillet is still nice & hot, add another touch of coconut oil (or EVOO or cooking spray) to the pan and crack an egg. Season with S&P, and cook to desired level of done-ness. Add on top of your bowl.
- Finish with another pinch of pecorino romano + a few shakes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce if you like it hot like me. Enjoy!