We Gather Together
Here we are again, preparing to gather with friends and family on one special day to honor all we are thankful for, even while we find ourselves living in times of turmoil and tragedy. Perhaps focusing on gratitude will help tilt the scale to better days for everyone. As Deepak Chopra says, “Gratitude encourages you to reflect on the blessings, experiences, relationships, and opportunities that enrich your life. Practicing gratitude can foster a positive outlook and help you cultivate a sense of contentment and joy.”
Contentment can be contagious and all that positivity yields love, which the world needs an extra helping of right now. Thanksgiving Day is the perfect occasion to start tapping into all there is to be grateful for and to spread hope every day thereafter.
On a much lighter note, I hope you will be grateful for an elegant and healthy side dish to add to your Thanksgiving table. Butternut squash farro is a welcome alternative to traditional sides and can double as a main course for your vegetarian guests.
I love this dish cold, right out of the refrigerator, the next day. It makes the best leftovers, and you can even throw a fried egg on top for breakfast.
You will find farro in the grain aisle of your grocery store and it is impossible to mess up. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture which are extremely satisfying. Farro contains the same amount of protein as quinoa, but it is higher in fiber, has antioxidants, and is anti-inflammatory. I like rotating grains, to provide a variety of textures, flavors, and nutritional benefits, and to ensure that my family never gets bored with weeknight meals.
I am thankful for the opportunity to share simple recipes with you in hopes that you will be inspired to try them and enjoy them with family and friends as you gather and rejoice.
Butternut Squash Farro
1 T. cumin seeds
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 T. fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves (1 minced, 2 thinly sliced)
4 cups ½-inch cubes peeled butternut squash
4 T. olive oil, divided
2 cups semi-pearled farro
2 T. chopped Fresno or red Jalapeño chile pepper
with seeds, divided
¾ cup red onion in ½-inch cubes, plus ¼ cup thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to smoke, 3-4 minutes. Cool and grind in spice grinder or by hand with a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, mix 1½ teaspoons cumin with yogurt, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.
Spread squash out on a large-rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and generously season with kosher salt and pepper, toss to coat. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook farro in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 18-20 minutes. Drain and cool.
Heat remaining two tablespoons oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and one tablespoon chile and sauté 1 minute. Add onion cubes and garbanzo beans and sauté 1 minute. Add roasted squash and cooked farro and toss to blend.
Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons ground cumin and 1½ teaspoons lemon juice. Toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
Mound farro mixture on each plate and spoon yogurt mixture over. Sprinkle with cilantro, sliced onion, and remaining chile. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.