Spring is here (even if it's gone back to more seasonal chilly weather). But I still have a ton of winter squash sitting in the pantry. And they're not getting any younger...
So I decided to make one of my favorite lunches - a hearty farro salad with roasted delicata squash, baby spinach, goat cheese, a sprinkling of dried cranberries and toasted squash seeds, and a light vinaigrette.
I began by roasting the squash since that takes the longest. Just olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need. The roasting brings out the sweetness and the squash has a lovely nutty flavor. We also roasted the seeds as they are really lovely - I like them even better than pumpkin seeds.
Then I cooked up a mess of farro - a lovely ancient grain that is a living ancestor of wheat (it's official name is emmer wheat) that has a truly scrumptious nutty flavor to it and a nice, slightly chewy consistency.
I had some fresh herbs on hand, so I chopped those up and tossed them into the farro, too, since you can't go wrong with fresh parsley, basil and dill.
Then I put the salad together on a bed of baby spinach, topping it with some chunks of chèvre, some of the roasted delicata squash seeds and a small handful of dried cranberries for added hints of sweetness. I drizzled olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper over it all and tucked in.
Farro Salad With Roasted Winter Squash, Spinach & Chèvre
* 2 large delicata squash (you can also use a single good-sized butternut squash or other winter squash)
* 1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro
* 3-4 cups salted water or vegetable broth
* 2 tsps each chopped parsley, basil, dill, thyme or cilantro
* A bunch of baby spinach (you can also use arugula or watercress and the amounts are really up to you!)
* Handful of dried cranberries, cherries or raisins
* Handful of roasted pumpkin or squash seeds (optional)
* Goat cheese (as much or as little as you like)
* Olive oil
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Vinegar of your choice
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the squash with several teaspoons of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper then spread in a single layer on a heavy baking sheet. Roast, turning often, for 15-20 minutes or until soft but still toothsome (you don't want the squash to fall apart in the salad.) Remove from the oven and let it cool.
2. While you're roasting the squash, cook the farro (please note that these directions are for the semi-pearled variety which takes about half as long to cook as the other kind.) Rinse the farro in several changes of water, then add it to the water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until it reaches the desired consistency - the grains should still have some nice chewiness to them. Then drain the farro and place the grains in a bowl.
3. Toss the farro with olive oil (or walnut or pumpkin seed oil if you've got those on hand - they're even better!) until combined and season to taste with the sea salt and black pepper.
4. Wash and dry the herbs and the baby spinach (or whatever greens you're using). Then mince the herbs and toss with the farro.
5. Compose the salad starting with a bed of the greens, then a layer of farro, then a layer of roasted squash. Dot with goat cheese and toss on the dried cranberries and roasted squash seeds. Drizzle with some olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle lightly with sea salt and give it all a few grinds of black pepper.
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