An Uncooperative Autumn

October 13, 2008

My parents were in Chicago for the weekend and we packed nearly every minute of it with all things fall. We made a dinner that featured a roasted pork tenderloin, glazed onions, mashed potatoes and apple crisp. We were in Evanston for a college football Saturday (so much for the Cats’ undefeated schedule). We watched playoff baseball. We feasted on freshly-baked apple streusel muffins for breakfast. We ordered desserts after a dinner out on Saturday night that involved pumpkin and caramel. We studiously avoided talking about politics, as we do every fourth fall, so as to avoid heated arguments. I bought a new scarf while I was out shopping with my mom and sister. We even discussed the Thanksgiving menu.

Despite our extremely admirable (if I do say so myself) efforts at playing fall, the weather refused to cooperate. It was hot. Hot. Eighty on Sunday! Eighty on October freakin’ twelfth. The trees were plump with green leaves. The sunshine absolutely flooded both Saturday and Sunday. Not to sound too Palin here, but to all this I said: thanks, but no thanks.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

I like summer as much as the next girl, but summer had its turn. And I’d really appreciate it if it would now kindly step aside and make room for its more short-lived, wind-swept sibling: fall. On a tank top-clad walk through the neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, it became clear that the weather had no intentions of turning. It simply was not going to be the cool fall weekend I so wanted.

To spite the temperature—every single one of those eighty degrees—I spent the balance of the afternoon making a pot of soup and this farro salad. More on the soup later this week, but this salad did its part to inject the last gasp of the weekend with fall. The salad is hearty and earthy, flecked with bits of prosciutto and sage and studded with roasted nuggets of butternut squash and cauliflower, both of which were meaty and caramelized just a little around the edges. It’s now packed into containers, ready to serve as lunch (and a persuasive reminder that, despite the weather, it is indeed fall) all week long.

Farro Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 pound farro, rinsed and drained
2 carrots, halved crosswise
1 small onion, halved
1 celery rib, halved crosswise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 large head of cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into 1-inch florets
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large saucepan, combine the farro, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover the farro by 1 inch and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the farro is tender but chewy, 15 minutes; drain. Spread the farro on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower and butternut squash in two teaspoons of olive oil and spread on a foil, parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Roast the vegetables in the 400-degree oven until soft and browned in spots, about 30 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the farro, cauliflower, squash, prosciutto, 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

8 Responses to “An Uncooperative Autumn”

  1. April in CT Says:

    I’ve never heard of farro, but this looks SO good!

  2. mimi Says:

    i’m a summer girl, so i’m loving this warm weather! this farro salad looks delicious, but i just can’t buy squash yet, it’s too nice outside! πŸ™‚

  3. holler Says:

    That looks just lovely πŸ™‚

  4. janice Says:

    I love farro and am always looking for new recipes for it. Thanks!

  5. April in CT: It’s a grain that tastes similar to rice. Bu it’s nuttier and heartier, I think. You could certainly substitute another grain here.

    mimi: Oh, I am several butternuts deep this fall already!

    holler: Thanks!

    janice: Me too! I hope you give this a shot!

  6. Jessica Says:

    Hi Kristin,

    I just wanted to introduce myself as one of your regular readers. I am quite sure I found you by linking through, but that was some time ago. Among the millions of blogs out there, yours really stood out to me. Thanks for the many wonderful recipes and the beautiful photography!

    Last night I tried a great recipe from food & wine mag: butternut squash turnovers. Check them out here:


  7. Irene Says:

    It’s funny, just a few weeks ago, I was in denial about fall, and now, I can’t wait for summer to go away! It’s been 90 degrees here and I’m DONE with this whole heat thing. Bring on the rain (I mean sprinkle, actually — here in LA — and maybe if the weather could please go below 75, kthx). πŸ™‚

  8. Jessica: I have that one dog-eared in my November F&W! It sounds incredible. Thanks for your note!

    Irene: Hmm, fall in LA sounds just a little different than fall in Chicago. Here’s hoping we both get our version of fall. : )

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