Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn Roasted Vegetables and Farro Salad

Last weekend was a weekend of firsts for me: my first California football game – Cal vs. UCLA, my first tailgating experience, my first time at the Rose Bowl. It was so much fun! The Rose Bowl is not your typical tailgating experience. Essentially it’s like a big park (beautiful green space!) with A LOT of people picnicking. We had a few “yard” games to play like beanbags and yard golf and of course plenty of food…including this yummy salad.

As much as I love quinoa, a girl just has to spice things up from time to time to add variety and excitement to cooking and eating. And so, with that in mind, I decided on farro tossed with a few of my fall favorites.

Farro is an ancient grain with a lovely texture, nuttiness and elegance that exceeds many common grains. It is also the perfect substitute for Arborio rice in a risotto dish. Though farro is much lower in gluten and easily digested, it should still be avoided by those with celiac disease or a wheat sensitivity. Farro is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and unlike other whole grains, it contains cyanogenic glucosides, which have been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar levels. It is also high in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E.      

There are different types of farro (pearled, semi-pearled and un-pearled) so make sure you prepare your farro according to the label.

1 ½ cups of uncooked farro
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed
3-4 cups of Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
3 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped finely
½ cup of raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Sea salt
* dried cranberries - optional

Vinaigrette Ingredients
¾ cup EVOO (plus a little extra)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (plus a little extra)
1-2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Sea salt

* Vinaigrette recipe makes one cup.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Toss the butternut squash and Brussels sprouts (separately) in a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper (easier clean up) and transfer the squash cubes and Brussels sprouts to the separate pans. Shake the pans to evenly distribute the veggies.

Roast the Brussels sprouts for approximately 15-20 minutes and the squash for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until tender.

Prepare the farro according to the package or label. When it has finished cooking, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small skillet. Add the finely chopped sage and fry until slightly crispy.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt until emulsified and somewhat opaque.

Add the farro, squash, Brussels sprouts and fried sage to a large bowl. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and toss well. Top with pepitas, dried cranberries (optional) and serve!

Note, you will have left-over vinaigrette. Seal it in a jar and keep for up to two weeks.

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