Baked Farro, Bacon, and Butternut Squash

Baked Farro, Bacon, and Butternut SquashCostume (Butter) Nut
Do you remember your Halloween costumes from when you were a kid? I do. I remember being Raggedy Anne, and of course there was a mouse costume in there somewhere. One year I was a flamenco dancer, and I went as Wilma Flintstone another year. My favorite costume of all time had to be Cleopatra—partly because the make-up was totally fun, but the real reason was the mondo-cool dress.

My mom had this super-groovy one shoulder gold lamé disco dress that was just awesome. And because I was tall enough, I was able to wear it to be Queen of The Nile. Costume aside, the Gold Lamé Dress will forever live in familial infamy. I don’t remember actually seeing Mom wear it, but I have to assume she did at some point. It was just too fantastic to not wear it. Long live the 70s!

Why am I talking about Halloween costumes midway through September? Because it has been the topic of discussion around the dinner table for the last week. The planning has begun. For the boys the issue is do we care or not, and are we just too cool for Halloween? It’s Middle School. Gone are the Halloween parades, class parties and costume contests. In their place, the real world, where they have tests and homework assignments.

My daughter is in full planning mode which, frankly, scares me. Here’s why. Last week I came home to find her locked in her room (a.k.a. The Lab) furiously working on something with duct tape and scissors. Two hours later she emerges and proceeds to tape (yes, tape) a cardboard dragon costume to our Bassett Hound, Rocket. While we all found it funny, except for Rocket, it is this type of impulsive ingenuity that can make finding a Halloween costume for her difficult. It also means that her choices can be, well, different.

I am all for being your own person and not following the crowd. In fact I encourage all my kids to find their own beat. But someone please tell me why she thinks that being a squash for Halloween would be so totally awesome!? And where I can find a Butternut Squash costume? ‘Cause I doubt I’ll find it at Target alongside all of the frozen options…

Having me make the costume is not a possibility. She’s going to have to go a different route, because this is the only butternut squash I will be making…

Baked Farro, Bacon, and Butternut Squash 
Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe on the Food Network
Serves 6 to 8

6 thick-cut slices applewood-smoked bacon
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups pearled farro
3 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
3 cups (3/4-to-1-inch-diced) peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Bake the bacon on a baking rack set on a sheet pan for 20 to 30 minutes, until browned but not crisp. Dice the bacon in large squares—the size of the width of the strips.

In a small (9-inch) Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown. Add the thyme, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the chicken stock and farro. Bring the pot to a simmer. Place the diced squash on top of the farro mixture, cover, and bake in the same oven with the bacon for 30 minutes, until the squash and farro are tender. Check once during cooking for dryness, and add a little chicken stock if needed.

Sprinkle the bacon and parmesan on top of the squash and farro, and bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid evaporates, the farro and butternut squash are tender, and the cheese has melted. Serve hot directly from the pot.

Find these recipes and more in Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

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