Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wheat Berry Salad with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Sage

Wheat Berry Salad with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Sage

This is another side dish I'm excited about this year. There are a lot of refined grains in Thanksgiving meals: the pie crusts, the stuffing cubes, the gravy thickener. Whole grains don't frequently factor in. A good side dish salad like this is the perfect opportunity to introduce some, providing chewy texture and (don't tell) something healthy.

Last year, I made a Roasted Parsnip and Quinoa Salad, this year I turned to wheat berries for my whole-grain side. If the cooking time of wheat berries turns you off, you could use a quicker-cooking grain, such as farro.

Despite wheat berries seeming like non-traditional Thanksgiving fare, the roasted butternut squash, fresh sage and dried cranberries give this dish a lot of traditional holiday flavor. This tastes great leftover too.

Wheat Berry Salad with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Sage

1 lb. butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup wheat berries, rinsed
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1 sweet onion, diced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 carrot, shredded
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 475 F. Toss butternut squash with 1 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, stir squash and roast an additional 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine 1 3/4 cups water, wheat berries and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour until the grains are tender. Drain excess water and set wheat berries aside to cool.

3. Heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add hazelnuts and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Set a clean kitchen towel on a work surface. Transfer the nuts to the towel. Fold the towel over the nuts and rub vigorously between the two layers of towel to remove the nuts' skins. Coarsely chop the nuts.

4. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped sage and cook another 5 minutes until the onion is quite soft and lightly browned and the sage is very fragrant. Set aside to cool.

4. In a large bowl, combine the squash, wheat berries, nuts, dried cranberries and shredded carrots. Whisk together the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil and lemon juice with freshly ground pepper. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to combine.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this one. It's a brilliant creation. It tastes (and smells) like Thanksgiving!