Sunday, October 11, 2015

Falling

It almost hurts, it's so beautiful in the Berkshires right now. That super clear, cool light, the growing intensity of the leaves on the trees. Flowers in my garden are exuding their last burst of energy, with showy nastrutiums and marigolds looking ridiculously overdressed against the drab foliage of the surrounding plants which are ready to call it a night.


I go to work in an office these days, and am enjoying the routine of that, especially now that it's autumn: the choosing of the outfit every morning, the packing of the lunch, the half-hour drive, even. (I've been listening to audiobooks to pass the time -- a new pleasure.)

Went to the farm yesterday and came back with fall treasures: celery root, leeks, carrots, delicata squash. Made a hearty autumnal salad (is salad the right word? room-temperature, vegetable-based dish more like) for lunches this week.

Wheat Berry and Root Vegetable Salad
Serves 4

This salad is versatile -- substitute peeled and cubed butternut squash for the delicata, add parsnips, rutabaga, red onion, etc. When cooked, the skin of delicata squash gets very tender, so I don't peel it. You could add some crumbled goat cheese on top just before serving if you'd like.

1.5 c wheat berries
kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 delicata squash, cut in half, seeds removed, and cut into a 1/2" (1 cm) dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" (1 cm) dice
1 celery root (celeriac) peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
2 leeks, white and light green part only, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1" pieces
3 TB olive oil plus more to drizzle
freshly ground pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp herbes de provence or dried thyme
1/4 c dried currants, cranberries, or cherries
1/2 c chopped walnuts
juice of one small lemon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, cover wheat berries with 2" of cold water. Add 1 TB kosher salt and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Boil for 40-60 minutes until wheat berries are chewy but tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.

2. While wheat berries are cooking, toss vegetables and herbs with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, and olive oil and spread in a single layer on a large foil-lined cookie sheet. Put in oven and roast for 40 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.

3. In a small skillet, toast walnuts over medium high heat until fragrant and toasty smelling; don't allow to burn.

4. When vegetables are done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine drained wheat berries, roasted vegetables (along with any oil that collected in the pan), currants, and walnuts. Drizzle with another tablespoon or so of olive oil and about 2 TB lemon juice and toss till well-combined. Taste for oil, salt, and lemon, and adjust to your taste.

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