Yeah, yeah, you were probably expecting cookies. But no worries, cookies are on the way. But first, vegetables.
I spent the last few days in Miami, there ostensibly to watch my brother graduate from college. It rained quite a bit but I got a few hours of sun in each day and even when it's cloudy the beach is a pretty damn nice place to be. The trip also meant eating out for four days straight, the highlight certainly being Michael's Genuine. It's kind of remarkable to be able to enjoy heirloom tomatoes in season in December, and their roasted version with pesto and goat cheese made it more so. However, despite the deliciousness I enjoyed, I was ready for some lighter fare by the time I flew back into Chicago. These recipes caught my eye while I was perusing my December cooking magazines, looking, of course, for cookie recipes.
I'd never actually cooked farro before, but I had more than enough turnips sitting in my vegetable drawer after getting them the last two weeks of my CSA. I didn't have turnip greens, but I did have delightfully sweet winter spinach in abundance. The original recipe served 20, so I cut it down to 1/4. It was surprisingly easy to put together; after the farro was toasted, it took me less time to make the dish than it did for the squash to be ready. The result is best described as earthy, and really shone in texture: chewy farro, with tender greens and buttery roasted turnips.
Now the squash, that's about as easy to make as it gets. Trim, cut in half, add seasoning and some heavy cream. Then bake, add some parmesan cheese, and bake some more. It's not the usual preparation for squash, certainly, but damn does it turn out delicious. The cream takes on caramel notes as it bakes, and that sweetness is perfect for winter squash. This will work for any acorn-like squash – I used smaller Jester squash. I also didn't have enough thyme to work with, which is what the recipe called for, so I used herbes de provence, which I loved here.
So here it is, a little hearty vegetarian fare to carry you into the holiday season before I inundate you with cookies:
turnip and greens farro salad
1/2 lb farro, or about 1 cup
1 bay leaf
10 ounces turnips, peeled and trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
12 ounces winter greens, turnip greens if they came with your turnips, but I used spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1/2 tablespoon if using fresh
freshly ground pepper
red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread farro on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until it is giving off a nutty fragrance, shaking pan about every 5 minutes. Note: The toasting farro will let off a lot of steam.
When farro is toasted, bring to a boil with 3 cups of water and the bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, or until farro is tender. Add a good amount of salt (I used about a tablespoon) when the farro has about 10 minutes to go. Drain.
To prepare turnips and greens, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Add turnips and thyme, and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until turnips are easily pierced by a fork. Add greens. If using tender spinach, cook until thoroughly wilted and tender. If using tougher greens, cook until wilted, then cover pan and cook another 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat: toss in red wine vinegar and parsley.
Place cooked farro in a large bowl. Add turnip mixture and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Add cracked black pepper to taste, and salt if you need it. Toss well, and serve. Good still warm, room temp, or even chilled.
creamy winter squash
Adapted from Everyday Food December 2012
2 acorn squash, or similar, like Jester
salt and pepper
herbes de provence
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (2 ounces) parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Trim the ends of the squash and cut in half length-wise. If you need to, trim the uncut sides so the squash will lie flat. Place squash in a rimmed baking dish coated with cooking spray, cut sides up.
Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper, then about 1/4 tsp herbes de provence. Divide cream evenly between squash halves. Bake for 35-40 minutes until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Note: careful when you do this, the squash has a tendency to tip and you don't want to lose the cream! Use tongs to hold onto the squash if necessary.
Sprinkle squash evenly with parmesan and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.