I’m the type of friend who you have to send frequent reminders to if you want me to do something. Like a “staple it to my head” type of reminder. It’s not that I don’t care- I just have severe short-term memory issues. My friend Risha asked me for a recipe using farro a looong time ago. It totally slipped my mind before now. So, here it is! (I know I suck). I call it an Italian Harvest Stew because butternut squash, sausage, kale and farro stew is annoyingly long.
What ingredients are in Butternut Stew?
The main ingredient is butternut squash (shocker), but it’s also filled with Italian sausage meatballs, kale, farro, a nice mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions), and garlic and rosemary, too.
Words like mirepoix might seem daunting. It really is just carrots, celery, and onions that are diced. So, now that that’s cleared up, let’s get started.
How do I cut a Butternut Squash for Stew?
Use a good swivel peeler to peel the tough skin off of the butternut squash. Don’t press too hard or the peeler will get stuck on the hard rind. A light scrape usually takes the waxy, rough peel off fairly easy.
Once you’ve peeled the squash, grab your cutting board, and cut the squash across the width of it. This makes the butternut squash shorter, and therefore, more manageable. Split it in half to expose it’s inside, and use a large spoon to scrape out the seeds and fibers. You may either discard them, or wash the seeds of the fibers and roast them with olive oil and salt.
After your squash is scraped of its insides, grab a chef’s knife slice the squash into one inch thick slices. Then cut them again into one inch thick sticks. Cut the sticks down to one inch cubes and your butternut squash is ready to go.
Have a blast cleaning the squash’s residue off your hands. That stuff is crazy sticky!
What type of meat do I use for this Butternut Stew?
Because Italian sausage comes already seasoned, I recommend using it in this stew. Italian sausage is already seasoned and holds together beautifully, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel with it.
Instead of putting too much labor into prepping these meatballs, I just cut the sausage into one inch cubes. After I cut the sausage, I roll it into small meatballs.
How do I make the Butternut Stew?
This has to be one of the easiest stews- heck, meals- I’ve made. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a seven quart dutch oven (if that price tag is too steep, here’s an less expensive version) and toss in the meatballs. I want to get some color on the meatballs because that will add to the flavor of the stew. Stir them around with a wooden spoon after browning them for two or three minutes.
Add the onions and the garlic and sauté it until the onions are glossy.
Stir in the rest of the mirepoix (the celery and carrots) and sauté for another five minutes.
What is farro?
Farro is just a whole grain. It’s similar to brown rice, but it’s a much better source of fiber. It requires very little prep to use. Sort through the farro and remove any stones or rogue bits of nature from it prior to adding it to the pot.
Reduce the heat and add the farro and the butternut squash and stir to mix it all together.
Now add the chicken stock and the rosemary. Salt the stew liberally and add the pepper. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
Let the stew cook for thirty minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.
How do I finish the Butternut Stew?
To finish the stew, I add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Just a lil’ sumthin’ sumthin’ that adds a little “I don’t know what” in French. Fish out the the rosemary stems now because it’s about to get really green and you won’t be able to find them after this next step.
Throw in a buttload of kale. I know it looks like a lot, but it’s going to cook down almost to nothing- just trust me. Cover the pot once again, but turn the heat off. The residual heat will finish cooking the kale without robbing it of all its color.
By the time you get your ladles, spoons, bowls, and shred your parmesan cheese, the stew will be ready to serve.
How do I serve Butternut Stew?
Once you’ve gathered all your dinner and serve-ware your stew should be ready to dish up. Ladle your stew into bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese (or don’t).
How do I store Butternut Stew leftovers?
After the stew is cool, transfer leftovers to a food storage container and store it in the fridge for 3 days.
Reheat leftovers in a pot on a stove or in the microwave until warmed through.
Does Butternut Stew Freeze well?
Yes! In fact, I double this recipe and freeze a batch of it all the time!
After the stew cools, pour it into 2 gallon size freezer bags and freeze the stew lying flat. Stand the bags up after they’ve frozen solid and store for 6 months.
When you’re ready to reheat the stew, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat it in a pot. Popping the frozen block of stew in the slow cooker and setting it to low for 10 hours also works.
Pin this recipe to enjoy with your family and friends. It’s perfect for beating the chilly weather…and (hopefully) my horrible memory- sorry, Risha!!
Butternut Squash, Sausage, Kale and Farro Stew
- 4-6qt dutch oven
- 1 pound Italian sausage ground
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups (1 large onion) white onion , diced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 cup (about 2 large carrots) carrots , diced
- 1 cup (2 large celery stalks) celery , diced
- 1 cup farro
- 6 cups (1 squash) butternut squash , peeled and cut into 1" cubes
- 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
- 2 stems fresh rosemary (or 1 tbsp dried rosemary)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups kale , rinsed and cut into 1" pieces
- shredded parmesan cheese
Prep the Meatballs
- Score the sausage into one inch cubes. Roll each piece into small meatballs.
Prepare the Butternut Stew
- In a 7 qt. dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the meatballs to the pot and brown on all sides for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the onions and the garlic and sauté it until the onions are glossy- about 3 minutes.Stir in the celery and carrots, then sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the farro and the butternut squash to the pot. Stir to combine.Pour the chicken stock into the pot, then stir in the sprigs of rosemary. Season with the salt and pepper, before bringing the stew to a boil.
Simmer the Stew
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook the stew for 30 minutes, or until the butternut squash feels tender when pierced with a fork.
- After 30 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar. Remove and discard the rosemary stems.
- Add the kale. Cover the pot once again, but turn the heat off. Allow the residual heat to finish cooking the kale. Taste the stew and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve and Garnish
- Spoon into serving bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.
- This stew is great as leftovers. If you find it's too thick, add more chicken stock until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Freeze leftovers for up to six months.
Nothing goes better with this Butternut Squash Stew than some freshly baked bread: