Caramelized Squash with Fresh Herbs and Farro

Believe me, I love to oven roast summer squash as much as the next person – but sometimes I have to admit, I get a bit impatient. By the time I wait for my oven to preheat to 425 degrees, then cook the zucchini until the slices are golden with dots of brown, we’re talking well over a half hour for a simple side dish. So now, when I want to enjoy the caramelized flavor of zucchini, yellow, or even pittypat (from our last box) squash faster, I’ll pan sear it over high heat and it’s ready within minutes.

To transform this vegetable from a side dish to a vegetarian meal, add your favorite whole grain – I used farro here, but kamut, pearl barley, or wheat berries would all work well. I like to cook the grain like pasta – in a large pot of simmering water. Start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes, and cook until the grain still has chew but isn’t hard.

The proportions of this dish aren’t really that important – just add flavors to taste. If you like the zing of citrus add more lemon juice, if you’re a fresh herb junkie load it up your favorites, or, if you like things a bit more sedate – omit the garlic and red pepper and just dust with fresh herbs.

4 servings

1 cup farro or other whole grain

2 large or 3 to 4 small summer squashes, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2- inch thick pieces

2 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

Generous pinch red-pepper flakes

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 to 1 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, chervil, or Italian parsley

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds, pistachios, and/or hazelnuts

In a large pot of boiling water, add the farro and simmer until it al dente, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil. Add the squash in a single layer (you may need to do this in two or more batches) and cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it turns golden. Flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Move the zucchini to the sides of the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic, scallions, and red-pepper flakes and sauté until softened, about 30 seconds. Mix into the zucchini, add the lemon juice and zest and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and stir to combine. Add the farro to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the fresh herbs and toss again. Just before serving, add the nuts.


  • For a more substantial dinner, top with grilled chicken or shrimp.

  • You can also mix in grated Parmesan while the mixture is still warm or sprinkle with feta before serving.

  • The reason two types of oil are used is because the grapeseed oil has a higher "smoke" point and is less likely than olive oil to burn when cooking the zucchini. The more flavorful olive oil is used to enhance the dish towards the end of cooking.