Creamy Vegan Farrotto with Butternut Squash

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 4 votes
Vegan farrotto with butternut squash, cashews, miso, and herbs is a delicious cold weather supper that is both nourishing and cozy.
An overhead shot of an orange-hued vegan butternut farrotto dish in an individual serving bowl.
This post is sponsored by Flourist
Image shows an orange-hued farrotto in a Dutch oven style pot.
Overhead image shows ingredients for a vegan butternut farrotto.
Image shows bowls of whole and cracked farro nestled into one another.
A kitchen scene shows a tray of roasted butternut squash halves and a blender pitcher on the counter.

Years of vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian living has led me to plenty of traditional risottos at many different types of restaurants. Some of them completely outstanding, and others… not so much. I love the creamy, starchy, stick-to-your-ribs nature of the dish. It’s very comforting! I do have a more traditional vegan butternut squash risotto option posted here. The first time I had a risotto made out of farro, or a vegan farrotto, I knew that I had stumbled onto something that would be a forever favourite.

Farrotto still has that chew to it, which makes it much more interesting texturally. The flavor of the toasted grains translates right to the end too. It’s easy to turn non-rice/alternative risottos into a warm heap of cooked grains with barely a slick of saucing surrounding them though—almost like a pilaf, really. In their whole state, many alternative grains aren’t as starchy as Arborio rice. They need a little help to get to that level of creaminess that we want. This is where some special technique comes in!

“Cracking” half of the farro grains in the blender helps release the natural starch within as the vegan farrotto cooks. I wouldn’t recommend cracking all of the grains because you’ll wind up with something closer to polenta/porridge, rather than a creamy consistency with plenty of whole chewy bits still intact. My other secret: I make a saucy mixture of soaked cashews, cooked butternut squash, water, and a few flavorful additions (miso and nutritional yeast) to add to the farrotto near the end of the cooking process. This adds a few extra vitamins and some protein to the dish, but it also makes it so, so, deliciously creamy and rich.

I’ve been using the Alberta-grown farro from today’s partner for a while. Flourist sources all of their premium grade pulses and grains directly from Canadian farmers, and you can honestly taste the quality. I tend to rip through beans, lentils, and grains quite fast, and I try a ton of brands in the process. Their product is truly superior. Up until I tried their goods, I was only able to find farro from an Italian grocery store with all-Italian instructions on the box. GRAIN’s farro travels less distance for me AND it has a picture of the farmer on the box, which I can’t help but love.

Overall, the transparency with this brand is what I love the most. Canada exports a ton of pulse and wheat crops, and GRAIN sells the freshest versions possible. Their journal is a great resource, too. If you live in the US or Canada, GRAIN is running a free shipping promotion from now until December 5th, if you need to stock up for the holidays/your new year’s resolutions ;) Also, I have a discount code at the bottom of this post!

I hope that you’re all having a great week! To my USA pals, enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and keep that calm going :)

Image shows roasted butternut squash halves on a baking sheet.
Four images show sautéed shallots in a pot, the consistency of starchy cooked farro on a wooden spoon, a butternut squash purée in a blender pitcher, and the butternut purée being added to cooked farro.
A 3/4 angle shot of an orange-hued vegan butternut farrotto dish in an individual serving bowl.
An overhead shot of an orange-hued vegan butternut farrotto dish in an individual serving bowl.

Creamy Vegan Farrotto with Butternut Squash

Vegan farrotto with butternut squash, cashews, miso, and herbs is a delicious cold weather supper that is both nourishing and cozy.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 4 cups low/no-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 ¼ cups filtered water, divided
  • 1 ½ cups whole farro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves minced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 1 tablespoon mellow miso
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste to taste

Equipment

Notes

  • Recipe inspired by the cracking technique from Cook’s Illustrated, as well as recipes from The New York Times and Food & Wine.
  • I wouldn’t substitute the butternut with any other type of squash. You want that sweet creaminess!
  • This recipe is written with WHOLE farro. I would not try it with other versions (pearled, semi-pearled, quick-cooking etc) without significantly adjusting the amount of liquid.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Cut the butternut squash down the middle lengthwise. Lay both halves, cut side down, on the parchment lined sheet. Slide the squash into the oven and roast until very tender, about 40 minutes.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the vegetable stock and 1 cup of the water and place it over medium-low heat. Cover the stock, and let it simmer gently.
  • Place half of the farro in an upright blender. Grind the grains on high until they are evenly “cracked” and resemble steel cut oatmeal. Set aside.
  • Make the butternut and cashew cream: Retrieve 1 cup of cooked butternut squash from the cooked halves, discarding the seeds. Save any extra squash for another use. In an upright blender, combine the squash, cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and remaining water. Blend this mixture on high until it’s completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and stir. Pour the whole and “cracked” farro into the pot and stir. Keep stirring until you hear crackling sounds and there’s a toasty aroma, about 2 minutes. Pour the lemon juice and ¼ cup of water into the pot and stir until the liquid is evaporated.
  • Carefully transfer the warmed vegetable stock to the pot with the farro. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for 20 minutes. Then, stir the farrotto a bit and cook it for another 20 minutes—keep stirring it here and there at this point.
  • Transfer the butternut cream to the farrotto pot and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring the farrotto to a boil and simmer, uncovered for another 20 minutes. You will need to stir this fairly often to avoid sputtering. The farrotto is ready when the grains look like they are lightly immersed in a creamy sauce. Whole farro grains will still have some chew to them. The farrotto will thicken as it sits, but it definitely shouldn’t be runny.
  • Serve farrotto hot with freshly ground black pepper and extra thyme leaves/other greens on top.
23/11/2016 (Last Updated 15/11/2023)
Posted in: autumn, cashews, creamy, earthy, holidays, main course, refined sugar-free, roasted, side dish, sweet, umami, vegan, winter

37 comments

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • H

    I would love to try this recipe, but I can’t see the instructions for all of the ads that block the wording. So frustrating… not sure what you control in terms of that… if I can ever see the instructions I would definitely like to try…

    • Laura Wright

      Hi H,
      I’m so sorry about this. I will check in with the ad provider to see what we can do. Are you accessing my site on a computer, tablet, or cell phone? In the meantime, if you click on the “print recipe” button on any of my posts/recipes, an ad-free version of the recipe will pop up in another tab. Here is the link for this recipe in particular: https://thefirstmess.com/wprm_print/14353
      -L

  • Ariella

    5 stars
    Delicious! Added a some sage with the thyme and bunch of arugula at the end but otherwise followed the recipe closely!

  • Veronica

    Delicious!  Lovely November meal. Thank you. 

  • Willow

    Hi! What would you suggest is the best way to make this in advance and to reheat on the night of serving? Thanks!

    • Laura

      Hi Willow,
      I think that you could prepare this dish up to the point of completion and simply reheat it with some extra splashes of vegetable stock when you’re ready. The farro will absorb more liquid as it sits, so I would cut the cooking time back by about ten minutes.
      -L

  • Kristen

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner, and so delicious!
    It tastes rich, but is all planted based. I’m going to stash some in the freezer, so hopefully it will thaw well.

  • Taryn Fahey

    I made this for Thanksgiving dinner this weekend and it was a huge hit! I’ve never made farro or risotto before so wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it all came together fairly easily. Will definitely be making again!

  • Bailey

    A friend shared your blog with me last week and I’ve been cooking something from your pantry-friendly list every night since!! :)

    Question: I do not have farro on hand; do you think barley would work? And if so, how would you adjust the recipe?

    • Laura

      Hi Bailey!
      Thanks for this comment. I think barley would be a great substitute here as it takes about the same amount of time as farro to cook and is similar in flavour/texture.
      -L

  • Stephanie

    I just made this for the second time – it’s DELICIOUS. My husband can’t get enough of it. I have doubled the recipe both times and very happy I did.

  • Lucy

    This is my second time making this recipe and I so love it. I just need to remember to double the recipe so I have more leftovers!

  • Kim

    Delicious! I just made this ahead so that I can serve it on Halloween. So yummy and creamy. I think the lemon juice is critical. Thanks!

  • Charlotte

    Hi Laura,

    I made this last night and I have a couple of questions:

    1. I could only find “quick-cook farro”. What does pearled- semi-pearled refer to and is “quick-cook” farro either of those two?!
    2. Can I freeze this recipe?

    The reasons I ask this are that the outcome of my efforts is rather larger in volume than I was expecting. Also, the texture looks more homogenous and gloopy than that pictured above. This has made me unsure that the water quantities were right for the type and quantity of farro that we used and for the cooking method. Lastly, how would I adjust this for risotto rice please? I might have to try this if I can’t find whole farro here in Devon, UK!

    • Laura

      Hi Charlotte,
      I know that various types of farro are labeled differently depending on the country you live in. Pearled and semi-pearled versions have some of the outer husk buffed off to make for a faster cooking time and a lighter flavour/texture. It sounds like you used pearled farro from your description of the final outcome. The Smitten Kitchen site has a great breakdown of different farro types near the bottom of this recipe: https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/07/one-pan-farro-with-tomatoes/

      Also, yes this recipe can be frozen and reheated beautifully.

      And on your last question, I honestly have no idea how to convert this particular recipe to make it work for risotto rice. I use the squash puree with the farro here because farro lacks the natural starchy-ness that risotto/arborio rice has. I’d have to do some Googling/testing myself to see how it would actually work with the right amount of liquid. Sorry I can’t offer a more definitive answer. On the upside, there are quite a few butternut squash risotto recipes online, so I’m sure one of them would be workable.

      -Laura

  • Katrina

    I just discovered your instagram/website last week and I’m SO glad I did! Beautiful photography and mouth watering-recipes… I love it all. I made this recipe yesterday night, and it was a huge hit! My boyfriend loved it, and so did I. The texture was wonderful, creamy with the slight crunch of farro. Lovely combination. It’s a very nice alternative to arborio rice. I will make this again! Thank you Laura, your website is a wonderful inspiration to eat healthy and to try new flavors!

  • Lauren

    Can I use a food processor instead of blender for the farro? I have a pretty weak/old blender.

    • Laura

      I think you could use a food processor, but it may not get the cashews and squash to a totally creamy consistency. If you have it around (and not everyone does), you could sub the cashews for the same amount of raw cashew butter so that you can guarantee smoother results. But if you aren’t bothered by a bit of texture, you should be fine with the recipe as is!
      -L

  • gloria of Veghead, Etc.

    Made this last night and loved it! Thank you so much for posting. I would never have thought to make this amazing combination of flavors and to use farro!

    As usual, I altered based on what I had on hand: soaked pumpkin seeds and almond slivers instead of cashews; added sautéed chopped mushrooms; added turmeric and New Mexican chile powder with the seasonings and replaced the thyme with dried rosemary; and used microwaved honey nut squash instead of butternut.

    Served over black beans with roasted cabbage wedges and steamed cauliflower alongside. Yum!! Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Dee

    Is it just me or when do you add that other cup of water? I assume you add (as per usual with risotto) as you stir during one of the 20 min intervals?

    • Laura

      Oh gosh, you’re totally right. The remaining water gets pureed with the butternut squash and cashews. I’ve adjusted the recipe ;)
      -L

      • Dee

        As luck would have it, that’s exactly what I did with it. So far so good – sauce tastes delicious :)

  • Amelia

    Just made this tonight, but substituted organic arborio rice for the farro (for a GF version). I used much less water than called for because of the rice. This sauce is AMAZING!!! This is the perfect cozy winter dish. Thank you thank you :)

  • Katie

    We made this the other night, and WOW. I felt super guilty eating it because it tastes so decadent, but it’s all plant based!

  • Alex

    Ooh, cool! This is brilliant. One of the recent issues of Bon Appetit also featured this cracking technique for making porridge.

    And I looooove these photos! Well done as always :)

  • Jodi

    We went to a potluck the other night and the vegetarian option was a butternut squash risotto. It was seriously delicious and I wish I could have taken credit for it. I probably should have because I think I ate more than half of it. The so full yet not full feeling just kept me going for another spoonful (also, a few glasses of red wine send my appetite through the roof!). It’s a vicious circle. Anyways, all this to say that when we it’s our time to host this farrotto will be on the table. Beautiful, as always, Laura. x

  • Renee

    I used to steer clear of risotto dishes when dining out because they were always so gummy, goopy, and flavorless. This recipe, however, looks absolutely delicious. I’m officially obsessed with pairing miso and nutritional yeast. Thank you for sharing!

    -Renee

  • Heidi Richter

    Oh my goodness, a MUST try! Thank you!

  • Julia @ HappyFoods Tube

    I absolutely love this recipe! I’ve just used my roasted squash to make a soup but I bet this would taste waaay better. Must find farro somewhere near me! :) Great great recipe!

  • maya kuijper

    this looks so good! I’ve been meaning to try farro for ages, looks like I’ve found the perfect recipe :) beautiful photos too.

  • Miss Food Fairy

    I’m always looking for new ways to use farro Laura and this dish looks delicious! Pinning for later reference x

  • Nik

    Thank you for this recipe and discount! I have been meaning to order from Grain for a while and you pushed me over the edge… in addition to the farro (I just have to make your farroto!)I bought some of their blue barley and kabuli chickpeas.

  • Amanda | What's Cooking

    This looks so good! I’ve been craving a risotto, but I’ve been avoiding white rice lately. I cannot wait to try this. Maybe tonight!! Thank you. Lovely photos too and your thoughts on calm resonate so well with me. xo

  • valentina | sweet kabocha

    I prefer farrotto to risotto too! But my husband has a more traditional taste, and he hates pumpkin and squash :( I really need to invite a friend to prepare all the plates he doesn’t like :P This looks too good!!

  • Tuulia Talvio

    This is beautiful, Laura! I so wish I could eat farro as rice gets so boring in risottos every now and then. But I’ll have to come up with a gf alternative so that I can try this creamy deliciousness :)

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    Love the pictures and the meal.

  • Donna

    I just wanted to thank you for a lovely blog. I have always enjoyed your recipes but most importantly I love, love how you include links to local companies. We need more of this. Thanks so much.