Have you ever purchased a cook book and loved the sound of every recipe it contains only to get home and look properly through all the methods and realise there’s very slim chance you’re going to make any of them, despite how amazing they sound? Well that’s what happened to me years ago when I bought Suzzane Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques cook book. I had every intention of not being put off by the complicated and fiddly prep involved in most of the recipes because I knew the effort would surely lead to amazing results, but alas I never did. Until now, when I saw this recipe online and realised hey, this one doesn’t sound too laborious and gave it a whirl. I’m really glad I did because it was sensational. We pared it with a simple roast chicken but kept returning to the farro and pumpkin for more spoonfuls and it eclipsed the chicken so much that we probably could have done without it. There this recipe lay, lurking on my bookshelf, all these years and it took a search for farro side dishes on google for me to discover it! Now, when I say this recipe isn’t too laborious that’s only relative to other “normal” side dish recipes. There are a few extra steps here and you’ll go through a few more dishes than you think is necessary but trust me you’ll smile when you eat it and think to hell with the extra dishes and work, I’m going to make this again next week, which is exactly what I did. I’m going to dust off my copy of Sunday Suppers at Lucques to make sure I’m not missing out on any other gems, which I’m pretty sure I am – I’ll keep you posted.
Ingredients Serves 4 as a side dish Adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques
300-400g squad or pumpkin, diced (I used butternut pumpkin and peeled it as well as dicing)
180ml olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
450g cavolo nero leaves, cleaned, centre ribs removed and chopped (I used 1 bunch but I should have used more and weighed it properly
½ a sprig of rosemary
2 chiles de arbol, crumbled (i used a couple of pinches of chilli flakes)
2 onions, sliced plus ½ an onion cut into three wedges, with the root still attached
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into three pieces
1 stalk of celery, cut into three pieces
300g farro (spelt)
30g unsalted butter (use olive oil if you want it to be vegan)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C. bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
Toss the squash with 30ml olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt and a healthy pinch of pepper; spread out on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender.
Blanch the cavolo nero in the rapidly boiling water for 2 minutes, drain, let it cool and squeeze out excess water with your hands.
Heat a large pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. pour in 60ml olive oil and add the rosemary spring and half the chilli. let them sizzle for a minute then turn the heat down to medium-low and add the sliced onion. season with ½ a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. cook for 2 minutes and stir in the sliced garlic. continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and beginning to colour.
Add the cavolo nero and 30ml extra olive oil, stirring to coat the greens. season with a ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook the greens slowly over a low heat for around 30 minutes until they turn a dark, almost black, colour and get slightly crispy on the edges. turn off the heat and set aside, removing the rosemary and chilli (if using a whole dried chilli).
While the cavolo nero is cooking, heat a large pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. pour in the remaining 60ml oil and add the onion wedges, carrots, celery remaining chile and bay leaf. cook for about 5 minutes until they have begun to soften and turn golden. add the farro, 1 tablespoon of thyme and 2 teaspoons of salt to the pan, stirring to coat the farro with the oil. add the sherry and 1 ½ litres of water, bring to a boil, lower the heat then simmer for about 30 minutes until the farro is tender. drain the farro and spread out on a baking sheet to cool. discard the vegetables.
Heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. swirl in the butter and when it foams add the farro and sauté, stirring continuously, for another 3-4 minutes, until it’s slightly crispy. add the squash and greens and stir well to combine. taste for seasoning and serve when it is all warmed through.