a friend dropped in tonight, detouring just slightly off the path of an israeli couscous buying excursion. i had offered to cook for her and i was fortunate that she was agreeable because these days i seem to feel an undefined obligation to ‘nablopomo‘ my life away, relentlessly chained to both the kitchen and the computer simultaneously (a.k.a. my usual life), and with the need to cook.
my friend is a vegetarian which is a pretty comfortable genre for me. my life consists quite happily of numerous meatless days. at the beginning of this year i was a raw vegan for a solid 4 months – just because. and now i’m not. but i could be again. you just never know with me.
i believe one of the most impressive food bloggers that exists hands down is heidi from ’101 cookbooks‘. her recipes are always impeccable, her photography is true art and her voice is kind and real. and she’s a vegetarian. so today i wandered around her site until i spotted our dinner. i had everything i needed except a slice of montrachet, fresh thyme and a red onion. perfect.
i am the proud owner of a 5.5 lb. bag of semi-pearled farro from market hall. i’d seen that it was on “sale”, if only minorly - and i decided to stock up. i’m growing quite fond of this nutty, chewy little spelt like grain. i also just happened to have on my counter one of my infamous csa butternut squashes just begging to get used. i’m thinking csa veggies somehow have a greater guilt attached to them. these vegetables know they were a challenge to begin with and to remain unused is to, quite frankly, reduce you to a failure as a cook. all that to say, my kitchen has been a tough room these past few months.
i read heidi’s post carefully, in the end making only a few small adaptions. i upped the fresh thyme, scaled down both oils and added a few grinds of black pepper. and i never minced some of the onions after they roasted – but that was only because i forgot. once i had my mise en place i never referred back to the recipe or measured a thing.
i began by deeply toasting the walnuts in a 350 degree oven until they were fragrant and well browned. when cooled they were roughly chopped and set aside. then i put the oven up to 375 and began to prepare the vegetables for roasting. the squash was cut into 1/2 inch cubes, the red onion sectioned into eighths and it all went on a baking sheet with maldon salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. i ended up using my ‘whole foods ’365′ spanish olive oil’ rather than the yellingbo pictured since i was just roasting and the subtleties of a great olive oil would be lost in the heat of the moment.
the vegetables needed about 20 minutes, tossing twice to make sure they were getting browned on all sides, and out they came.
my semi- pearled farro was soaked in water for 20 minutes, then drained and boiled in fresh water for about 20 more and drained again. the farro and the vegetables were then added to a mixing bowl along with some salt, pepper, the chopped walnuts and some walnut oil.
the farro and roasted vegetables then got plated with a sprinkling of fresh thyme and some good montrachet. the beauty of this dish for me, was that in all it’s rustic versatility, it was a flawless blend of ingredients.
a testament to mother nature and her infallible sense of style…