1 large or 2 small bunches (8 to 10 oz. total) Tuscan kale, stemmed (discard stems) and leaves cut cross-wise into 1-inch strips
About 4 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium to large red onion (8 to 10 oz.), halved and thinly sliced cross-wise
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/8 t. hot pepper flakes, or more, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. Butternut squash, peeled, seeded halved and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (see note)
1 c. pearled or semi-pearled farro
1 c. apple cider
1 T. to 1 1/2 T. cider vinegar, to taste
1/4 c. pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 oz. Labneh, yogurt or Feta (in large chunks)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the kale and cook until just tender—about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the kale, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the blanching liquid. Spread the kale on a baking sheet—or just spread out in a wide colander—and let cool.
Warm 1 1/2 T. of olive oil in a wide sauté pan set over moderate heat. Add the onion along with a good pinch of salt and the pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are tender and slightly caramelized. If at any time the onions seem dry, add a bit more oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the kale and stir to coat in the oil and onions. Cook over low heat until any water clinging to the kale has evaporated. Set aside and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the squash with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and transfer to a 450° oven. Roast until tender and caramelized—about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the squash over after about 15 to 20 minutes (wait to turn until the squash has begun to become golden on the bottom). Keep warm until ready to assemble the pilaf.
While the squash, onions and kale cook, cook the farro. Place the cider and reserved kale cooking liquid in a saucepan and check for salt. Bring to a boil and add the farro. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the farro is tender (but still has texture)—about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the farro and transfer to a large bowl. Add the kale/caramelized onions along with a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Taste, correcting the seasoning with salt, pepper and vinegar.
To serve, spread half of the farro mixture on a large platter or individual serving plates. Top with half of the squash and a scattering of pistachios. Repeat thes layering. Drizzle with olive oil. If using labneh or yogurt, serve with a dollop on the side or drizzle over the whole pilaf. If using Feta or goat cheese, crumble the cheese over all. Serves 4.
Note: Cut the cavity portion of the squash into 1/2-inch wide wedges. Cut the halved "neck" portion cross-wise into 1/2-inch thick slices. If you like, you can further cut these half circles in half—into "sticks" or quarters...as you prefer. I like this dish best made with all cavity portions as I think these 'wedges' look best in the dish. (I save the necks for a preparation that calls for a neat dice).
(Adapted from New York Times Cooking)