Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 35 minutes
Fires, floods, hurricanes, Harvey Weinstein. As I said to Sam this morning, “I was going to post something on Tuesday Recipe, but it seems pointless when the world is so messed up.”
“But that’s exactly what people need right now,” he said as he went out the door to report on an artist in Santa Rosa who lost his home, studio, everything in the North Bay wildfires.
So I’m thinking, what do people need right now? I’m in my apartment in San Francisco, safe, untouched directly other than seven days of smoky skies. I donate, I work with organizations that help the homeless, I “like” posts by friends who have been affected by the fires. But does this accomplish anything? It feels miniscule. How can I — how can we — make a difference?
I’ve been struggling with this for months and I know many of you have, too. I don’t have the answer. I only know where my power is and my power is in the kitchen. That’s how I touch people, by feeding them. And maybe little by little this gesture adds up. Maybe just caring and connecting with people, doing whatever is in your power to do every day, adds up. I don’t know. I only know that cooking makes me feel better.
This recipe might make you feel better. It’s healthy and flexible. It can be a hot side dish, a cold salad, or a leftover lunch. You can vary it with other greens or squash, substitute raisins for the currants, or leave them out. You can jazz it up with feta cheese or mustardy dressing. I’ll be making this all fall because it goes with roast turkey, chicken and pork, and because it reminds me that a few things can add up to something good.
2 to 3 cups precut butternut squash cubes (see note below)
extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale (curly or Tuscan)
1 cup semiperlato farro
1/2 cup currants
freshly ground pepper
optional: feta cheese, mustard vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 375° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment. If the squash is in large chunks, cut into 1-inch cubes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt; toss well. Spread squash out on one baking sheet. Strip the kale leaves from the stems and discard stems; toss leaves with olive oil and salt and spread on the other baking sheet. Put squash in the oven and roast until tinged with brown, about 35 minutes. In the last few minutes, add kale to oven and roast until it is limp and starting to brown at edges, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the farro as you would pasta: drop it into a large pan of well-salted boiling water and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, until just chewy, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain well and put in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil; toss to coat the grains.
While farro is cooking, put the currants in a measuring cup or heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water to cover by about 1 inch. Set aside to plump.
When the squash and kale are roasted, remove them from the oven and add to the bowl with the cooked farro. Drain currants and add them to the bowl and stir well. Season to taste with pepper, salt, and more olive oil if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature as a side dish. Or refrigerate until the ingredients are cold and serve as a salad, adding feta and mustard vinaigrette if desired.
note: precut butternut squash comes in packages of varying sizes; use as much as you want. Or peel, seed, and cut up 1 whole butternut squash instead.