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Farro with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts, Cherries, Pickled Shallots & Feta

20130128-053738.jpg Farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world. The hearty kernel also makes it a substantial base for a healthy salad. Saturdays are days I quite often make something to bring to the shop for lunch, as it is such a hopping day. We had a butternut squash in the fridge, so I thought I would roast that up, get a little creative, and see what I could come up with. I love salads where you can mix & match, using things that work well together. Here is what I added to the farro to make a filling lunch for a busy day.

Cook farro to the instructions on package. I like it not so crunchy, so I tend to cook it a bit longer than the norm to get a tad softer. Roast cut up butternut squash at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper until soft and a bit golden. Set aside. Cut up a shallot into small pieces and add to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Let that sit and pickle for a bit. The longer the better. At least 30 minutes is best. While the farro is cooking and the shallots are pickling, take a small pan and dry roast a handful of hazelnuts until warm. This helps bring out the natural oils of the nut, really helping bring out the full flavor of the hazelnuts. Set aside. Once the farro is cooked, take off of heat and add half of the shallots and half of the rice wine vinegar they were sitting in. This will infuse into the warm farro and add quite a bit of flavor. Add a few good pinches of salt and pepper at this stage too. Let cool. Once cooled, add the butternut squash pieces, the remaining shallots, the hazelnuts, a handful of dried cherries, and finish with a good amount of crumbled feta. Mix all together. Taste. Season with more salt if you think it needs it. Also add the remaining vinegar that you pickled the shallots in, if you desire more. Done. A quite healthy and visual lunch.

A happy Monday and start of the week to you all!