Chef Nige: Squash Farro Salad with Bitter Greens

Squash Farro Salad with Bitter Greens, Pomegranate Seeds and Carminative Herbs Mmmm it’s November and you know what that means- diving head first into a harvest and that seems to last non-stop for 3 straight months. We may be headed to more gatherings, indulging in more delectable dishes and sweets, and just plain eating through the rest of the year until January where we come up for air and eat a meal that doesn’t start with cheese or include a side of gravy. The eating part is great. It’s fun. It brings us together. It gives us a good excuse to celebrate the season, and sometimes it’s so great, we forget that all the greatness relies on our digestive track to sort it all out, break it all down, and turn it into fuel and nutrition for our entire system. This recipe is composed of favorites from the culinary and herbal worlds that actually help aid our digestive system. This herbaceous, hearty Farro salad will fill you up, arm you with a fun dish for your next potluck, and help your tum do what is does best- DIGEST what we throw in there. Ingredients: 2 Cups Cooked Farro (about 1/3 pound dry) ½ Cup cooked red quinoa (about ¼ lb dry) 1 cup diced roasted butternut squash (preparation details below) 4 cups bitter or spicy greens (like dandelion, mustard, kale, dock, chard) washed and rough chopped 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds ½ cup pomegranate seeds 1 cup fennel fronds (the cup is just a rough estimate here, try a large handful of fronds to start) 1 cup mint leaves (4 -5 sprigs or so) 1 cup basil leaves 4-6 fresh lemon balm leaves (if you can’t get your hands on fresh lemon balm, it can be omitted (herb preparation details below) Dressing: ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ¼ fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon honey ¾ cup olive oil ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoon sea salt pinch or three of black pepper Method: For the squash: Pre-heat your oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside. Grab your butternut squash. If you are buying a whole squash- peel entire squash. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, Chop into large chunks and then dice into about 1.5 inch pieces. (I have had to prep dozens of butternut squash at a time so to avoid flashbacks, I bought the pre-chopped package from the store. I used a 12oz package of pre-peeled/diced squash ,and after I was done roasting, it came out to about a cup which was perfect for this recipe. ) OK, so you got your raw diced squash- throw it into a bowl and add about a teaspoon of olive oil and coat all the babies. Toss a pinch of sea salt in there and a pinch or two of black pepper and mix to coat. Spread your squash in a single layer onto the baking sheet and pop into the oven on the top rack. Set timer for 20 mins. After 20 mins, spin the baking sheet and set timer for another 8 mins. for nice and roasty squash bites. When ready, pull out of oven place on a heat safe surface and allow to cool. For the grains: Cook Quinoa and farro according to package directions. (Farro cooks much like brown rice. However. if you can find “Quick Cooking Farro”, it will cook just like pasta- boiled for about ten minutes, and drained. Red quinoa cooks much like white rice). Transfer both to a large bowl, and allow to cool. For the Greens and Herbs: I used a pre washed bag of spicy mixed greens, a blend that included chard, dock, and red oak lettuce. I then added some young dandelion, kale and mustard leaves I had growing in the garden. I just rough chopped the larger greens, but this part is really a preference, depending on how large or small you prefer your greens. For the herbs, I gathered all my little leaves and fronds and stacked them on top of each other and cut chiffonade style into little tiny strips. Chopping them finely helps to release all those bright oils and bursts of freshness throughout the salad. For the dressing: Add your lemon juice, vinegar, honey, cayenne, s&p, into a bowl and whisk briefly to combine. Slowly drizzle your oil and whisk as you pour, until the honey has dissolved and it’s all combined. To compose: Using a large bowl combine your farro, quinoa, butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and herbs. Toss in your greens and herbs, pour in your dressing and using two utensils toss around until it is all combined. Give it a taste and add some more lemon juice if you’d like, or some more salt and pepper to taste. Some notes about this recipe & Digestion: This is a big recipe. This is a “take to a potluck” or “make ahead for a few days of lunch” size recipe. I tend to cook like this- making meals ahead of time works best for me. But if you want a small recipe feel free to cut everything in half. Or cook it all, keep it separate and combine your ingredients a little at a time. Also, as I hope you get from most my recipes, have fun with this. Add more herbs or more spice to it (USE YOUR FIRE CIDER INSTEAD OF PLAIN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, hint hint). Use less grains if you want more of a green salad and less of a grain salad. Substitute white quinoa or brown rice for the Farro for a gluten free version. Use agave instead of honey for your Vegan company. Add some feta on the side for your cheese friends who can tolerate it. The goal here is to create a fun healthy dish that is composed of easily digestable whole ancient grains paired with greens and herbs that better help along the digestive process. This salad is pretty much all GI tract helpers.. With a base of Farro, an ancient grain very low in gluten and high in dietary fiber, it is super easy for your body to break down and actually aids the intestines with the peristaltic process. Both Farro and quinoa are packed with protein (8 grams per serving for Farro and 5 grams for quinoa!) and both contain vitamin B3, helping the body with the metabolic process. These grains as well as the greens contain helpful antioxidants including lignans, which help to reduce inflammation and this can be a key aspect for many of us with digestion challenges. The bitter greens help signal our body to start digesting and our carminative herb friends mint, fennel, basil and lemon balm help warm up the digestive tract and help decrease intestinal cramping. By incorporating whole grains and bitter greens into your daily diet, you are already treating your digestion issues with every meal. Bringing carminative herbs to the party can make an even bigger difference. It’s all a part of the bigger picture here, and we can tackle these tummy troubs one meal at a time! Much tum love, Nige

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