Butternut Squash Salads

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We had another busy week here. I worked overtime every day this week, which is unfortunately not unusual. I had hoped to get one time Friday, but my boss wanted me in a meeting at 4 Friday afternoon. Nothing bad, but just one of those things.

Bob and I have been going back and forth on food choices. Last year he wanted to cut back on grains, especially wheat. We gave that a try, but found it involved eating lots of meat. Now he is ok with cutting back on meat and adding in a few grains. I’m still trying to keep the processed wheat out and extra sugars – pasta, bread, etc. – are limited. (To be fair, I should cut out more desserts, but I’m just not willing to do that.) But, with the idea of less meat I’ve broken out the vegetarian cookbooks and had fun.

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When one gets home after 6 and wants something healthier than pizza or Chinese (the two delivery options) a salad can work great. I picked up a butternut squash the other day so that became the point of departure for this salad. Roasted butternut squash with carrots, cucumbers, pecans, goat cheese, field greens and a white balsamic shallot vinaigrette. The squash roasted while I prepped everything else so in 40 minutes we had dinner. I also like this one with chicken, but as I didn’t have any on hand, the vegetarian option it was.

After hitting the Disney Food and Wine Festival yesterday (I love Disney, I really do) I wanted to cook something today and use up what I had in the fridge. So back to the butternut squash. I found a recipe that looked interesting, then , of course, changed it for what I had on hand. I cooked up some farro

20131006-161517.jpg while roasting 1/2 a butternut squash, 1/3 of an onion, and garlic in a little canola oil and balsamic vinegar. After about 20 minutes in, I added 2 chopped tomatoes to the tray and put it all back in the 375 oven for another 15-20 minutes.

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I added the roasted vegetables to the farro but removed the roasted garlic.

20131006-161744.jpg I took the roasted garlic (about half a bunch) and mixed it with a little olive oil, a touch of black truffle oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I also toasted some pumpkin seeds (thank you Val for the idea) and added those to the salad.

20131006-161920.jpg Pour the dressing on and mix together. I topped it with a little goat cheese and we had lunch.

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I need to add a little salt to it at the end, but otherwise this was fantastic. Bob said he liked it more than my butternut squash risotto and he could eat it every week if I wanted to. For a vegetarian dish, I thought that was high praise. What I liked most about this was the textures. The farro has a good mouthfeel and a little nuttiness to the flavor. The roasted vegetables really took the place of meat here, even the tomatoes. The pumpkin seeds added a crunch and the goat cheese was just a nice topping. The salad would honestly be just as good without the goat cheese and then it goes from vegetarian to vegan. But a good dish, a hearty dish and a dish I would serve to anyone I know and be proud of it. Which, I suppose means it was a successful dish. And yes, while farro is a wheat type grain, it isn’t wheat as we think of it. It is a grain all on its own. I like this NYT article from a number of years ago to explain. While heavy of the food scene and restaurant usage of it, it still gives a good, basic explanation.

I’m still scouring cookbooks for this weeks recipes, but I know it’s going to be a long week at work. Think I need simple and quick again.

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