If vegetables can be considered a religion, then my families religion is butternut squash. It’s one of the most abundant items cultivated on our small farm and it was the vegetable that my Grandfather was the most proud to grow. We used to jokingly call his Cadillac the “butternut mobile” because he would drive around the farm in that car, collecting butternut squash and giving visitors tours of the butternut fields.
So needless to say, I’m pretty happy that it’s butternut squash season again. I love to prepare it every which way possible. And I could eat it all day, everyday. Morning, noon and night! But my new favorite obsession is this Wheat Berry Salad with Whiskey-Soaked Cranberries, Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash.
I’m am seriously crushing on this salad. It has so many complex flavors and textures. It makes me swoon. The wheat berries (not actually a berry, but a whole grain) are chewy and nutty and super duper filling. The roasted butternut squash is sweet and soft. The kale adds brightness and a little crunch. Oh and the whiskey-soaked cranberries. Hello! Amazing! The dried cranberries plump up with all the flavors of the whiskey, giving you get a little burst of boozy-ness when you bite into them. It makes weekday lunches at the office that much more bearable (hint: leftovers are amazing, so take ’em with you to work!).
Oh and of course I couldn’t just toss the soaking liquid down the drain. That would be a waste of perfectly good whiskey! I used it to create a simple dressing for this salad, so all those wonderful flavors subtly permeate the whole dish.
Full disclosure time. Wheat berries do take some time to cook (up to 60 minutes sometimes). But you can roast the squash, make the dressing and prep the kale all while the wheat berries are cooking, to ensure this dish comes together quickly once the wheat berries are actually done.
I enjoyed this salad on the first day while it was still slightly warm. But I actually think it got a bit better with age. So yeah for leftovers!
The weather in Seattle was pretty angry this past week. There was a lot of heavy rain, wind, thunder, lightening and general craziness. Living on a floating home during a storm is certainly an interesting experience. The weather just seems more in your face, if that makes any sense. I guess when your house moves with every wave and wind gust, it’s kind of hard to ignore what’s happening right outside your window.
So what’s a girl to do? Answer: hunker down and make soup.
This Lentil and Black Bean Soup with Italian Sausage totally hits the spot on a gray day. It’s hearty like a chili, but not quite as dense. And it has a creamy quality (without any cream!) that makes it extra comforting. It will quickly warm you up on even the dreariest of days. And the leftovers are pretty awesome, so that’s always a win for me.
Because I firmly believe food shouldn’t be naked, I’ve added extra parsley and some crushed tortilla chips to the top for serving. A crumble of cheese or a dollop of sour cream would be a welcome addition as well.
Stay dry and warm friends!
Recipe adapted from Cookin’ Canuck