We’re giving casseroles an update with sophisticated and healthy ingredients perfect for any modern home cook!
This month, we’re featuring the incredible fall veggie, butternut squash. Of course, I didn’t always think it was incredible, which I talk about here. It seemed too high-maintenance to deal with, but then I discovered a simple way of prepping it that made it a mainstay in my fall grocery list. (You can watch the secret to prepping butternut squash with the video below.)
Now I experiment with many ways to cook this veggie. Last week, I paired it with another fall favorite, brussels sprouts, for the ultimate fall side dish. Today, we’ll be adding it to a hearty, healthy casserole.
I know what you’re thinking: Casserole? Isn’t that something women made in the 60’s?
Yes, it’s true, but this casserole (or bake) has been updated with sophisticated and healthy ingredients for the modern cook. It features one of my favorite grains, farro (sadly not gluten-free, but millet would be a great gluten-free substitute).
The chewiness of the farro combined with the creaminess of the butternut squash are a great balance of textures (plus, it’s fiberlicious). I’m a dairy fiend so I also use creme fraiche and lots of cheese in this dish to add richness and make it an extra satisfying winter-night meal.
If eating as a side, consider pairing with a bowl of bean soup, and you’ll have all your nutrition categories check off.
And if you’re looking for more ways to cook and eat healthy with a variety of whole grains, download our Guide to Whole Grains for free:
Guide to Cooking with Whole Grains
Learn more about this food group and how to make whole grains a healthy part of your diet.
- Only two veggies to chop for this dish, and you can do it quickly and efficiently with the help of these how-to videos:
How to Chop Butternut Squash
There's no need to wrestle with butternut squash anymore once you see how easy it is to prep this vegetable.
How to Chop & Dice an Onion
Learning how to dice an onion correctly will save you so much time in the kitchen.
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools
- 1/2 butternut squash (save the rest for another one of our recipes), chopped
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 1 cup farro (semi-pearled)
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (opt)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1/4 cup gruyere or other similar cheese, shredded (opt)
- Butternut squash – Warm in microwave for about 3 to 5 minutes to soften skin. Slice in half, remove outer skin, and chop squash into 1/2 inch cubes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Onion – Chop into 1/4 inch squares. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Farro – Cook like pasta by bringing 1 quart (4 cups) of water to boil, salt, and then add farro. Cook until al dente (about 20 minutes). Drain. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix cooked farro with creme fraiche or sour cream. If not using either, lightly butter / oil a medium-sized baking dish. Pour farro into baking dish and spread evenly over the bottom.
- In a medium sized bowl, toss butternut squash with olive oil, thyme, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Spread veggie mixture evenly over farro.
- If using, sprinkle gruyere on top, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Enjoy as a side or a main dish!
Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2012 and has been updated with new and helpful resources.
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