- Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
- Farro with roasted squash and broccoli and sage-brown butter dressing
Most recently that occurred when the universe sent me several messages over the course of a few days.
First, I interviewed acclaimed author Jonathan Safran Foer about his most recent book, We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, in advance of his University of Vermont George D. Aiken Lecture on October 8.
Among the things Foer and I discussed were what he had eaten for breakfast: nothing, because he doesn't eat breakfast, making his book subtitle a tad disingenuous.
Related Seven Questions for Jonathan Safran Foer in Advance of UVM Talk on Diet and the Climate Crisis
Scrolling through Instagram a few days later, my eye landed on a beautiful photo from Farmhouse Pottery in Woodstock of a farro salad with roasted butternut squash and sage-brown butter dressing. Hmmm... farro. I haven't made that lately, I mused again.
The recipe called for 2 cups of farro and it turned out that was exactly the amount I had left in my larder. I also happened to have delicata squash from my CSA share and plenty of sage in my garden.
We've been trying to eat a few more plant-centric meals each week. You can't really argue with eating more vegetables and whole grains. There's also the point Foer makes forcefully in his book: Americans in general eat too much meat, and industrial livestock farming has contributed significantly to the climate crisis.
But who am I kidding? It was all about the brown butter.
The nutty, chewy farro cooked in about 30 minutes, about the time it took for the squash and broccoli to caramelize nicely in a hot oven. While those cooked, I sliced up shallots, picked the sage leaves and made the warm dressing on the stovetop. It all went in a big bowl with toasted pecans and a scattering of Vermont goat feta.
Thank you, Jonathan Safran Foer, Farmhouse Pottery and the universe.
Farro with Roasted Squash and Sage-Brown Butter DressingServes 4-6 as a main course
- 2¼ teaspoons coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 large delicata squash, seeded and sliced into half moons (sub: any winter squash, peeled, seeded and cubed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head broccoli, including leaves and stems, cut into bite size pieces (sub: cauliflower)
- 2 cups uncooked farro (sub: wheat berries, quinoa or brown rice; note wheat berries and brown rice will take longer to cook)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- About 10 medium sage leaves sliced or scissored into ribbons
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (sub: red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, such as feta
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
- On a rimmed sheet pan, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and several grinds of freshly ground pepper. On a second rimmed sheet pan, toss the broccoli with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Roast the vegetables, turning once, for about 25-30 minutes until they are cooked and a little caramelized.
- When the pot of water has come to a boil, add the farro and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 20-30 minutes until farro is tender to the bite but not mushy. (This will vary depending on age of farro.)
- While everything is cooking, make the dressing. In a medium sauté or frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and golden, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the sage leaves and cook another 2-3 minutes until the butter starts browning. Stir in the maple syrup and sherry vinegar and cook to reduce slightly, about 2 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Put the hot cooked farro in a big bowl and pour the sage-brown butter dressing over it. Add the pecans and toss to combine. Taste and add salt or pepper as desired. Top with roasted vegetables and crumbled feta.