Quick! Better go stock up on canned food and water before “Frankenstorm 2012″!
But first, I’d like to share a little gem of a grain salad I whipped up earlier this week. I’d been working on the recipe for a while, then the day I went to make it, Deb posted almost the SAME salad at Smitten Kitchen. Yes, she used butternut squash instead of delicata, farro and not wheat berries, and pepitas for the almonds. But dang – it’s pretty darn close. I’m sure hers is rather impressive, but I decided to go forth and cook mine anyways. I’ll let you be the judge.
The dressing in this salad calls for some slightly special ingredients. If you can’t find (or don’t want to purchase) golden balsamic vinegar, I think you could use regular balsamic, apple cider vinegar, or even sherry or champagne vinegars, if you have those hanging around. The almond oil flavor is subtle, so you could get away with just using olive there, but the truffle oil is what makes the salad. That being said, if you don’t have the $10 to shell out for the tiny bottle (it lasts forever, and a little goes a long way) but you can use another oil in it’s place. Just be aware that you may have to do a little tweaking to other ingredients to make the flavors pop without it. And of course any squash will work here. I like delicata because it doesn’t need peeling, and makes pretty flower shapes when sliced.
Truffled Delicata & Wheatberry Salad
1 large delicata squash, about 1-1 1/2 lbs.
1 c. hard winter wheat berries
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1 very small garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. golden balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar)
2 tsp. almond oil (or more olive oil)
2 tsp. black truffle oil
1/4 c. oregano, chopped
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice both ends off the squash, then slice into 1/2 or so slices. Using a spoon (I used a small, pointy tipped dessert spoon) scoop the seeds and membrane out of the middle of each slice. Pour a tablespoon or two of oil onto the baking sheet and dredge the slices through it, coating on both sides. Sprinkle generously with salt. Slide into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway. Once they are soft all the way through, you can put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get the outside nice and brown. Set aside.
While the squash are roasting, combine the wheat berries and a scant 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or more, until they are tender, but still pop. Drain the excess water if you need to, then set aside.
Place almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat and toast until browned and fragrant, just a few minutes.
Finally, make the dressing by squishing the garlic and some salt together to make a paste. You can use a mortar and pestle, or the side of a chefs knife. To the garlic paste, add the vinegar, then the oils, and whisk to combine.
To assemble the salad, toss the wheat berries with most of the almonds, oregano and all the goat cheese. Pour the dressing on top and stir to coat. Carefully stir in the squash slices (or just lay them on top) and finish with the remaining almonds and oregano.
serves 3 as a main, 6 as a side.