Farro with Figs, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Kale

Have you heard of farro? I hadn't either until I purchased a bag of Organic Italian Pearled Farro from Costco last week. Farro is an ancient grain that originated in the Middle East, but is now primarily grown in Italy. Some argue that farro is the same thing as spelt, but mimics the flavor and texture of barley. Trendy culinary circles are showcasing this protein-rich grain in mediterranean salads and richly flavored risottos. Most recipes I found paired farro with flavors of butternut squash, balsamic vinegar, and goat cheese.

I chose to take it one step further. I figured that if you're going to work with such complex flavors and textures, you might as well go all the way.

All the way in this case meant the addition of kale and figs. While I was confident of this union, I was also confident that I would fall out of favor with one of my sons. Three guesses which one it could be. And the first two don't count. :)

That's how I know this is recipe is a winner. Because it causes Number 2 to weep...from despair, not joy.

I think you will agree, unless you are a picky 6 yr. old!

Farro with Roasted Figs, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Kale

2 cups pearled farro 2 tsp. sea salt 5 cups water 3 cups diced butternut squash 1 bunch kale, stems removed 1 red onion, diced 1 T. dried thyme 3 T. olive oil 4 T. balsalmic vinegar, divided 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, or to taste 1 cup dried mission figs, quartered

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine farro, salt, and water in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender (al dente), about 20 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

While farro is cooking, steam kale in steamer or in a steam basket until tender, about 20 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside. Line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with oil. Combine squash, onion, thyme, olive oil, and 2 T. of balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt in a large bowl to coat, and place as single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350F until roasted and tender, about 20-30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine farro, chopped kale, roasted squash and onions, remaining 2 T. balsamic vinegar, figs, and salt and pepper to taste. Two options for goat cheese: Combine goat cheese with farro mixture while warm to make a creamier dish, or garnish each individual bowl of farro for a more custom flavor.