BUTTERNUT & ROASTED TOMATO GRAIN BOWL
Recipe by: Kayla Roche, Local Ventura chef and friend of Findings Market
Photography by: Albany Katz
This is winter comfort food at its best - perfectly roasted vegetables, crispy chickpeas, sharply dressed greens and a creamy herb sauce all nestled on top of a bed of nutrient dense grains. This recipe uses farro, an ancient form of wheat that has a pleasant nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture. Most farro found in grocery stores is pearled farro, meaning the outer bran of the wheat kernel has been removed, thereby allowing it to cook more quickly. If you do purchase whole farro, plan to soak the grains overnight by placing them in a pot and covering with three times the amount of water. You may find that you still need to increase the cooking time by as much as 20 minutes even after soaking, so be flexible and use your senses to determine doneness. The farro will be soft but chewy when cooked correctly.
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
12 ounces cherry tomatoes
7 large garlic cloves
2 medium lemons
½ cup curly parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
¼ cup dill leaves, plus more for garnish
¼ cup mint leaves, plus more for garnish
8 ounces brussel sprouts
4 ounces kale
Extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup pearled farro
2 bay leaves
½ cup tahini paste
1. Start prepping
-Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 3 medium baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
-Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler and remove and discard the stem. Split the squash in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop the seeds out of the base and discard. Cut the squash into 1 ½-inch cubes. Lay the cubes on one of the prepared baking trays. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss the squash to incorporate the olive oil and salt and spread out in a single layer on the tray.
-Spread the tomatoes out on one of the prepared trays. Peel 4 garlic cloves and thinly slice. Add the garlic to the tomatoes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss the tomatoes to incorporate the olive oil and salt.
-Spread the chickpeas out on the remaining baking tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon cumin, ⅛ teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss to coat the chickpeas in the oil and spices.
2. Roast the vegetables and chickpeasPlace the trays of butternut squash, tomatoes and chickpeas in the oven. Check the trays in 10 minute intervals, gently stirring each tray as browning begins to occur. The chickpeas will take 20 to 25 minutes. You will know they are ready when they are slightly crispy with a golden crust. The tomatoes will take 35 to 40 minutes. You will know the tomatoes are ready when they have released their juices and begin to wrinkle and turn slightly golden brown. The squash will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. You will know it is ready when it is golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. As they finish cooking, remove each tray from the oven and set aside.
Place 1 cup farro in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under running water. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Once the water begins to boil, add the farro, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 bay leaves to the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the farro is cooked through. You will know it is done when the grains are soft but chewy. Continue cooking, checking every 5 minutes, if the farro is not cooked after 30 minutes. It could take up to an additional 20 minutes if using whole farro.
3. While the vegetables and chickpeas roast, cook the farro
Drain the farro through a fine mesh strainer. Briefly rinse the farro and discard the bay leaves. Shake out any excess water. This is important to ensure that the lemon and olive oil are able to coat the grains. Once the water has drained, transfer the farro back to the pot it was cooked in. Zest half a lemon into the pot and then squeeze the juice into the pot as well. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix until everything is well incorporated. Set aside.
4. Make the tahini dressing
Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Peel and finely mince the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and add to lemon juice. Roughly chop the parsley, dill and mint and add the herbs, along with ½ cup tahini paste, ¼ cup filtered water and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl. Puree the mixture for 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dressing is ready when it is smooth, creamy, slightly green and able to be drizzled. Add an extra splash of water, up to ¼ cup, if the consistency is too thick. Set aside.
5. Prep the greens
Trim and discard the base of the brussel sprouts and cut them in half, removing any undesirable outer leaves. Thinly slice the brussel sprouts and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Remove the tender leaves from the kale and discard the stems. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces and add to the brussel sprouts. Set aside.
6. When ready to eat, assemble:
-Grate the zest of the remaining ½ a lemon into the bowl of greens. Squeeze the lemon juice over the greens as well. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoons salt. Massage the greens by hand.
-Divide the farro between 4 shallow bowls. Top with greens, squash, tomatoes and chickpeas. Drizzle tahini dressing over each bowl. Tear up extra parsley, dill and mint and use to garnish as desired.
-Extra tahini dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
-Feel free to use another favorite grain in place of the farro. Quinoa, barley, bulgar or different kinds of rice are all delicious in this dish.
-We love that this dish is hearty and satisfying even without the addition of an animal protein but fried eggs, grilled salmon, shredded chicken or spiced ground lamb are all excellent additions.
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