The season of winter squash is upon us and I could not be more delighted! Not only is winter squash rich in nutrients, but it is highly versatile as you can use it as a sweet or savory dish, eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and pair it with just about anything.
This recipe has butternut squash and farro at the heart of it. The butternut brings just the right amount of sweet to balance out the rest of the delicious savory ingredients. You know how I love my salads, and while this one is not chock full of greens, it does contain a harvest-like vibe which is perfect for the fall and winter months. Sliced fennel and shallots bring some nice flavor, while the pepitas and dried cherries add a bit of texture.
A simple vinaigrette can be whisked in seconds to lightly dress this salad. Another possibility is making a cashew cream sauce to drizzle over the top. I have a few cashew cream recipes on the blog, but my garlic cashew cream recipe is pretty basic and would complement this salad nicely. If you are strictly eating gluten-free, no worries. Substitute the farro with some quinoa or buckwheat groats. They both make fabulous alternatives to this salad. This goes without saying, but if you have another variety of squash on hand that you would like to use, of course, use it. As with most salads, adjustments can be made easily.
This salad is delicious warm or cold. You can store it in your refrigerator if you want to make it in advance, or simply have leftovers to store. The salad is still delicious in the days to come. If farro is a new ingredient to your diet, you are going to love this hearty, nutrient rich grain. Coupled with butternut squash, and this dish is a nice bowl of healthy comfort.
1 cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed and cooked according to package directions (For a gluten-free option, used quinoa or buckwheat groats)
1 small butternut squash (yield about 2 cups diced butternut)
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup dried cherries
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
1) Cook rinsed farro according to package direction. If you are using semi-pearled farro, it will probably take around 20-25 minutes.
2) Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel the butternut squash and dice it small. Slice the shallots and fennel. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the vegetables out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the veggies for about 20 minutes (turning halfway through), or until the squash is fork tender. * At the halfway point, add the pepitas.
3) Once your farro is done cooking, remove from heat and set aside. To make a simple dressing, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, along with cinnamon, and nutmeg.
4) Combine the farro and roasted vegetables in a serving bowl. Toss gently with the dressing. Then add the dried cherries for the finishing touch!
5) This salad can be stored in your refrigerator for about a week. Makes 4-6 servings.