Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Farro-Butternut Squash-Pecan-Apple-Kale Salad

I bought some farro three years ago—maybe four? I used to love this farro salad I would get from the Whole Foods salad bar. It had butternut squash and pecans in it and white miso paste, among other things I’ve forgotten from looking at the ingredient list. But for some reason making this salad always seemed too hard. How am I going to cut up butternut squash into tiny pieces to roast when it’s still raw? I have a hard enough time cutting that thing in half, let alone PEELING it and dicing it up into teeny pieces. And what would I do for the dressing? And how exactly do you cook farro? It all seemed too hard and too much. But when I checked out the new Fairway market this week, I saw halved, peeled butternut squash for $1.99 a pound, which is only a little more than I pay for the unprepared stuff. I had wanted to do a winter go-through-the-pantry thing, and farro had been in the back of my mind. I picked it up. Last night I made the butternut squash-pecan-caramelized onion-farro salad, and it was insanely delicious. E teased me, taking many bites and drawing out his comment, until finally he told me it was delicious. Except I had figured that out by that point since he had already taken ten bites in short succession. This is actually a surprisingly easy thing to make—much less difficult than the psychological baggage I had made me think.


Caramelize the onions. Chop up a few onions (food processor helps) and start caramelizing them in a pan. This takes 30-40 minutes over low heat and with a bit of oil in the pan. You can walk away, just stir occasionally until they get super reduced and brown. You’ll only need about ¾ cup of caramelized onions, so refrigerate or freeze the rest to use in other delicious recipes.
Roast the squash. Dice half a peeled and seeded butternut squash, and toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Stick in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and looks good to eat.

Cook the farro. I did maybe 3+ cups of water to a heaping cup of farro and 1+ tsp of salt. First I boiled the water, then added the farro, though I think you could add it at the beginning. I checked on it at 30 minutes then let it go close to 40 minutes. It should be nice and chewy. When it’s ready, dump it into a colander, then back into the pan. Then add a couple spoonfuls of white miso paste (2 tablespoons) and some pepper and a glug or two of nice extra virgin olive oil.

Roast apples. I roasted a couple of chopped apples in the oven, but then switched it to the pan because they weren’t going fast enough. I also sautéed some leftover kale I had around. I think spinach would also work nicely here. Only a cup or so of raw vegetable, you don’t need much.

Toast pecans. They need 10 or so minutes in the oven.

As these things got ready, I mixed the farro and butternut squash together, added the pecans, then the kale and apples. And let me tell you , it was insanely good. It might be one of my best dishes yet.

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