“I have no idea what to say about this salad,” I said. I’m speaking to myself, the way I often do when I’m working.
“You could say, ‘I love Aaron,'” says my darling husband across the dinning room table from me.
This is why I write the posts here and he doesn’t.
I could say that I pulled this together after a weekend where I way overindulged (like, college level overindulged) in drink (wine glass full of bourbon) and food (6-meat breakfast pizza to counteract that bourbon) and wanted to pull some nutrients back into my body. And I would be mistaken if I didn’t mention that it totally worked, that today I feel like a normal person and not like death.
I could say that it’s a beautiful celebration of the seasons, as there’s squash roasted with warm spice nestled with crisp spinach, which is only getting better the colder it gets. And this is true. It’s a fall salad, warming and cozy, healthy without feeling like health food.
Or I could lavish extravagant descriptions upon the food. I could mention how the nutty farro contribute a low, earthy note, while the vinegar soaked red onions bring a clean sharpness, all of it firmly steering this squash salad towards savory rather than sweet. I could appeal to clever kitchen hacks by telling you how soaking onions in vinegar will help keep the brightness but tame the sharp bite that can be overwhelm, and then you can efficiently use the vinegar to make a dressing.
Or I could defend the use of beans in this salad, because I used to hate when people adding beans to salads willy-nilly. It seemed careless. But now I’ve tried it and it’s the perfect way to add a creamy heft and I’m afraid their may be no going back. But I would absolutely assure you that if beans in salads still weird you out, then feta would be a worthy substitution and would hit many of the same buttons, but you may want to use less salt with the squash.
And then I might look back, and realize that I’ve said plenty, and implore you to try this squash salad. I would add a few admonishments, and then wish you the best of luck.
Happy Tuesday, everyone. You’ve got this.
Squash and Farro Salad
Serves 4 for a side, or 2 for a meal
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup uncooked farro
4 cups loosely packed spinach, roughly chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash with two tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch each of salt, pepper, and flaked red pepper, and the 5 spice powder. Place the squash in a baking dish and roast for half an hour, until tender.
In a shallow bowl soak the red onion slices in the white wine vinegar for ten minutes.
Put a large pot of water onto boil. Salt the water well, and then add the farro. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
In a large bowl combine the roasted squash, the farro, the onion slices (don’t toss the vinegar), the spinach, and the cannellini beans. Whisk the rest of the olive oil in with the reserved vinegar with a pinch of salt. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Add to the salad, and toss well. Top with the walnuts. Eat with relish.