The perfect hearty fall salad, a vegan butternut squash and kale farro salad recipe. Farro is a grain, derived from wheat, it has a fantastic nutty flavor and is the perfect vehicle for fall flavors.
Our bodies have a natural shift toward heartier food as the weather chills. We can kiss away the summer tomatoes and light suppers as our bodies look for more sustainable energy. Enter farro. Have you tried this grain yet? Farro has been eaten traditionally for over 6000 years. Egyptians used it in baking and Italians have loved farro for centuries. It has a luscious nutty flavor with a perfect pop bite. No mushy weird grain here, this is the good stuff.
I suggest buying in bulk when you find it, it can be a bit pricey and is definitely cheaper when in bulk. It's fairly easy to make. Soak it overnight, this cuts down on the cooking time and improves its digestibility. Farro is derived from wheat and contains gluten, but the gluten molecules are weaker than in modern wheat.
This is one of my favorite applications of farro, gently tossed together with rich and warming butternut squash, glorious kale, crunchy earthy hazelnuts, and a little sweet-tart bite from dried cranberries. Farro is versatile though, try it in multiple applications. When you make it, make a lot. It keeps very well. Specifically you can throw leftover farro into a mason jar, freeze it, then pour out as much as you'd like whenever you'd like.
Butternut Squash and Kale Farro Salad
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 head of kale, leaves stripped from stalks and broken into bite size pieces
- 1 cup of farro
- 2-3 cups of water
- 1 cup of leeks, washed well and sliced
- 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 1/3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the farro in water for 1-2 hours or overnight
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Place butternut squash in large baking dish, toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup, stir squash, and return to oven for additional 10 minutes or until squash is tender
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil, add farro and cook for 30-45 minutes or until tender. Drain farro (as you would pasta) and set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 1 tsp olive oil, add leeks and cook until soft and translucent (about 7 minutes) Add kale and saute for 5 minutes or until tender (you may need to add a few tablespoons of water to wilt the kale)
- Add dried cranberries and chopped hazelnuts to kale leek mixture, cook for an additional 3 minutes (be careful not to burn the hazelnuts) Season generously with salt and pepper
- Add cooked butternut squash and reserved farro to leek/ kale mixture, squeeze in lime juice and gently stir all together
- Taste for seasoning, sometimes I serve with a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a drizzle of aromatic olive oil.
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