This delicious salad with roasted butternut squash, farro and kale has become my family’s go-to nourishing winter salad to fight the onslaught of cold viruses.
One bowlful has it all going on: crisp kale, sweet butternut, hearty farro, salty Parmesan, and an addicting homemade dressing. It’s chockfull of vitamins and minerals including C, K, A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium—all enhanced by the enzyme-rich apple cider vinaigrette. But of course the best reason to eat it is that it’s delicious.
Prepping a butternut squash requires a good quality chef’s knife and a little muscle power (learn the best technique here), or many grocery stores sell it freshly cubed to save you time. You’ll just want to chop the cubes into smaller 1/2-inch pieces for guaranteed roasting perfection.
Make this colorful salad as an impressive side dish on a Sunday night then stowaway the leftovers for a work lunch that will be the envy of the office.
Yield: serves 6
- 1 cup whole-grain farro*, rinsed and drained
- 1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, dried well, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan shavings (a vegetable peeler works well)
- 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons miso paste (white preferred)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, place the farro with enough water to cover by a couple inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 30 minutes*. Drain the farro and set it aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut on the baking sheet and toss it with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the butternut out so the pieces aren’t crowded and roast it in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes, until soft and golden on the edges.
Prepare the dressing by combing the oil, vinegar, shallot, miso, salt, and pepper in a glass jar with a lid. Use a fork to stir in the miso, then shake vigorously to emulsify.
To assemble the salad, toss the kale and farro with three-quarters of the dressing in a large salad bowl. Add the warm butternut and toss again. Taste and add the remaining dressing, if needed. Top with the Parmesan and walnuts and serve.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.
*Cook times vary for farro depending on if it is whole, pearled, or semi-pearled. Quick-cooking farro lacks the nutty flavor and texture of whole farro. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill organic farro, which is “scratched” to decrease the cook time without compromising flavor or nutrition.
Elyse Kopecky is a whole foods chef currently co-authoring a cookbook for runners, Run Fast Eat Slow, with Olympic marathoner and longtime friend, Shalane Flanagan. After 10 years working for Nike and EA Sports, Elyse decided to pursue her passion for talking and writing about food. She went to NYC to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute and has taken cooking classes throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Sign-up for sneak peeks of Shalane and Elyse’s book at runfasteatslow.com or follow along @ElyseKopecky.