Healthy, fiber-rich, and delicious, Herbed Farro Dressing with Butternut Squash, Dried Cherries, and Pecans has all the flavors of fall in a holiday side dish that can be made ahead and makes great leftovers! Are you ready to try a less traditional dressing? This one is a winner!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing
This post is not a referendum on traditional bread stuffing/dressing. As long as it's not soggy, I'm usually happy to eat a small serving. I do find it to be a time-consuming option for a small Thanksgiving (or other holiday gathering), and it tends toward high in fats, carbs, and calories.
This recipe was originally part of my post A Cozy Thanksgiving Dinner For Two. In addition to Herbed Farro Dressing with Butternut Squash, Dried Cherries, and Pecans, the menu includes Herb and Citrus Brined Turkey Breast and Roasted Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pecorino.
The original post had all 3 recipes, and the google gods were confused. These recipes weren't being discovered in search engines. 😮 I decided last month that it would be worth the effort to separate them into 3 individual posts. The lovely finish to this menu is Gluten-Free Streusel Baked Apples with Bourbon Vanilla Mascarpone Cream. The recipes serve 4, but scaling them for larger groups is easily done!
You'll find the work flow for this 3 recipe menu here. If you prefer, you can make the herbed farro dressing the day before. Gently reheat it in a covered casserole dish in the oven... For "riffs" on this recipe, see "Tips and FAQ" below.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- butternut squash - You can substitute beets, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. Roasting time depends on size of the pieces and the specific vegetable. You want some caramelization and it should be fork tender.
- olive oil
- farro - Follow the package instructions for cooking time, and adjust recipe accordingly.
- fresh thyme
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- oranges - You'll use the zest in the dressing, and juice in the turkey sauce.
- dried cherries - You can substitute dried cranberries, apricots, dates.
- Roast the butternut squash - Preheat oven to 400°. Toss the cubed butternut squash with a drizzle olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet. Roast until tender but not soft when pierced with a fork. You want a bit of browning (30-40 minutes). While the veg roasts, start the farro.
- Make the farro - Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium saucepan or small dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook until fragrant and beginning to soften. Add the farro. Stir to coat with oil.Add the broth/stock, sprig of thyme, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Remember to check seasoning prior to serving!
- Finish the dressing - After 15 minutes, add the orange zest, and dried cherries. Toast the pecans and set aside. When the farro grains are al dente (firm to the bite), drain any remaining liquid. Pull out the thyme sprig, toss the roasted butternut squash and toasted pecans, and cover until you're ready to plate.
Cubed butternut squash is widely available in markets now, and is a huge time saver. Check the package carefully for freshness!
As I mentioned in the post, feel free to substitute pumpkin, golden beets, sweet potato, dumpling squash, etc. for the butternut squash. Just make sure it's roasted to tender but not soft. This process takes 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pieces and the variety of root vegetables used.
I typically roast vegetables at 400 degrees (375 convection). Since you're likely roasting a turkey, you can roast them at the turkey temperature. It will probably take about 30 minutes. They get added into the dressing just prior to serving, so the timing works out fine.
Check the suggested cooking time - The brand I use takes 30 minutes, so it works well with the rest of the menu. If you're waiting on your other dishes, simply drain the farro, toss in the roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, and cover to keep warm.
Riffs on Herbed Farro Dressing with Butternut Squash, Dried Cherries, and Pecans:
- You can replace the farro with brown rice, freekeh, bulghur, barley. It is important to note liquid quantity and cooking time.
- You can substitute your favorite roasted vegetable for the butternut squash (pumpkin, carnival squash, kabocha squash, beets, etc.)
- I have used both dried cherries and dried cranberries. Dates or other dried fruits would be delicious as well!
- While the recipe specifies pecans, you could try walnuts, hazelnuts (or your favorite).
YES! It reheats really well for 2-3 days. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
🧂 Useful Stuff
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I am always looking for new, healthyish, creative recipes for holiday menus... I'd love to hear about your favorites (in the comments below)!