This vegetarian dish is brawny and satisfying, with a cornucopia of late-fall market flavours and a range of textures, too. Pumpkin is the star, of course – a small sugar pumpkin is perfect but any orangefleshed winter squash will do. Leeks, which are at their best as the weather gets colder, play an important supporting role, and oyster mushrooms lend a delicious earthiness. Farro is a firm, nutty grain well loved in Italian cooking and becoming more and more prevalent in mainstream grocery stores. Check the package instructions to determine if you are working with a precooked variety or a completely raw product so you can adjust cooking time accordingly.
Ready time: 30 to 50 minutes, depending on type of farro
2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin or orange fleshed squash
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 sliced leeks, white and light green part only
2 cups oyster mushrooms, torn into large pieces
4 cups uncooked farro
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup fresh oregano leaves, torn if large
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Simmer pumpkin on stovetop in enough salted water to cover for about 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain well and set aside. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add pumpkin pieces and sauté until lightly brown around edges. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add leeks and sauté over low for 1 to 2 minutes or until barely softened, then add oyster mushrooms and more oil, as needed. Turn up heat to medium and cook leeks and mushrooms until well softened and crisp around edges; 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a separate plate and set saucepan aside.
Cook farro according to package instructions. Meanwhile, deglaze saute pan with white wine and stock or water, stirring up browned bits and simmering liquid until reduced in volume by half. Once farro is cooked and all water is absorbed, pour deglazing liquid into cooked farro and mix well. Add salt, pepper, reserved leeks and mushrooms and rewarm gently until heated through. Mix in oregano leaves.
Serve farro with pumpkin pieces overtop and a fringe of Parmesan cheese.