I wanted to share this delicious salad with you because I thought it might serve as inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal. It can be enjoyed either room temperature over arugula, radicchio or baby spinach and enjoyed as a salad course or warm as a side dish with or without the cheese. This is a good recipe to double as the squash, farro and chickpea mixture keeps well and can be easily heated for a quick meal the next day.
Farro is the Italian name for Emmer, an ancient heirloom wheat with a similar gluten content to spelt. It was a daily staple of the ancient Egyptian diet and a dominant crop in the Middle East dating back to 7000B.C. Emmer is often confused with spelt but is actually about 5000 years older. Since wheat has a much higher yield and is easier to harvest, emmer was fazed out in many parts of the world. Luckily for us it’s enjoying a big come back in the United States.
Most of the farro found here is imported from Italy, which is the only country that cultivates it on a large scale and is labeled “perlato” or “semi perlato” which means respectively, that all or some of the bran has been removed; therefore, the grain doesn’t have all of its nutrients intact.
I found some labeled “whole farro” but it cooked suspiciously fast; after some research I found that it was actually semi pearled. If you buy Emmer you will not only enjoy the nutty flavor but also its high protein, fiber and mineral content. Now that it’s available at the green market from Cayuga Organics you can enjoy it locally grown too, if you live in New York. If you live on the west coast Bluebird Grain Farm is a great resource for organic and biodynamic ancient grains.
Here I have finished the salad off with reduced balsamic vinegar. It’s a great way to get the aged balsamic flavor and texture for less cost in about 5 minutes. It’s great drizzled over all sorts of vegetables and also a great addition to salad dressings.
Warm farro roasted squash salad over wilted chard
¼ medium kabocha squash, cut in ¼ inch slices
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup farro (semi perlato) or emmer, soaked overnight in filtered water
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed
2 tablespoons spiced pumpkin seeds
6 oz goat milk feta
4 teaspoons reduced balsamic vinegar, see recipe below
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss to combine. Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring half way. Remove from oven when they are beginning to brown. Set aside.
Drain farro, place in a small saucepan with 3 cups of filtered water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until they are tender. If you’re using emmer it will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to cook and you may need to add more water too. Drain well and return to pot, add chickpeas, remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and the roasted squash. Place saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring every couple of minutes while you wilt the chard.
Rinse chard leaves and place in a skillet over high heat, turning with tongs until leaves begin to wilt. Reduce heat to low and cover
for one minute. Remove lid and stir until all leaves are deep green and wilted.
Divide onto 4 plates a top with about ¾ cup farro mixture.
Crumble feta on top, sprinkle each salad with pumpkin seeds and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of reduced balsamic vinegar.
Reduced balsamic vinegar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Place vinegar in a small skillet and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat a little to medium-high and simmer for about 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Be careful not to burn it, it will thicken as it cools. Store in a jar at room temperature.
Makes about 3 tablespoons.
Click here for printable recipe