Holy good heavens, this is a winner! I stumbled upon this recipe in a Bon Appétit a couple of years ago and it’s been on my “to be cooked” list ever since and I’m kicking myself for not making it sooner. Now that we’ve had it once, it will definitely become a winter staple in our household.
If you’re not familiar with Farro, it’s an Italian grain that has a mild nutty taste with a nice toothsome texture…similar in texture to risotto which is why it works so well as a substitute here. If the labor-intensive stirring of risotto scares you off then this is the perfect alternative since you get a similar textured dish without standing by the stove stirring non-stop for 30 minutes. Farro can be a bit harder to find than other grains, but specialty food and natural food stores tend to carry it. Italian and Middle East grocers are another good place to look. Of course, you could also order some online and save yourself some driving around. Trust me, this dish is worth the hunt!
In terms of process this is a really easy dish to make, particularly if you have leftover butternut squash already cooked up since that is what takes the majority of prep and cooking time. Another time-saver is using ground dried cumin rather than the seeds. Yes, I know true chefs wouldn’t dream of doing this, but sometimes you just gotta cut corners to get dinner on the table! You can still toast the cumin powder to release the essential oils and flavor, but do it for much less time and keep a good eye on it since it will burn fast.
So why do I like this dish so much? Well to be honest, I think it’s the addition of chickpeas to the dish and the delicious yogurt sauce. Without those two elements this would be a simple comfort-food spin on butternut squash risotto which would be good, but not great. Add in the chickpeas and cumin-yogurt sauce and you get the double whammy of a comforting winter dish elevated by an exotic twist. I can hear the sounds of Morocco already…
For some of my other favorite chickpea recipes check out my Chickpea Obsession Post here