Lilly is a stunning baby girl with a strong showing of light hair, searching blue eyes, a rosebud mouth, and ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. Her cat Rooster seems to like her, though he does periodically get jealous and try to commandeer her favorite chair.
I can’t wait to watch Lilli grow.
Bitter greens salad with roasted vegetables, wheat berries, and honey harissa dressing
This recipe started with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook‘s honey and harissa farro salad. At the end of the day, the only thing that I didn’t change around too much was the dressing, because Deb is, in my book, the queen of dressings. I replaced the farro with wheat berries, carrots and parsnips with butternut squash and beets. I skipped the mint and parsley and cheese. I added handfuls of bitter greens. But that dressing, oh that dressing. It now has a permanent place in my fridge and I’ve thrown it on everything – a pile of greens, a fried egg, cauliflower – I’ve made all of these above.
This salad looks like a lot of work, but I tend to prepare most of the ingredients in advance so I can throw together a salad in just a few minutes. I roast beets and squash on Sunday evenings. I make more grains than I need for any particular recipe, and then freeze whatever is left over in sandwich bags. Then I defrost a bag containing a few handfuls or so, and throw into my salad. The photos contain wheat berries, but I used bulgur for Molly because it’s what I had around.
Let’s talk a bit about grains for a bit. I‘ve provided directions for wheat berries below, though I’d suggest you follow the directions on the package of whatever grains you buy. There’s also the question of pre-soaking. Some recipes recommend soaking the wheat berries overnight in four times their volume of water. I’ve soaked and I’ve not soaked, and have had success both ways. I’ve also started using my pressure cooker which reduced the cooking time by about half. I’ve referenced this before, but it’s worth mentioning again – check out the “beyond rice” guide from the January 2013 Cook’s Illustrated for more info on cooking grains.
Makes enough for 3 – 4
- 3 medium-sized beets (I used golden beets in the photos)
- 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash (~1 1/2 – 2 pounds peeled and seeded)
- 3-4 T olive oil, divided
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1/2 C uncooked or 1 1/2 C cooked wheat berries (or other grains)
- 5-6 handfuls of bitter greens: I used baby kale, arugula, and mizuna
- honey harissa dressing (recipe below)
Prep. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Scrub beets and cut off any greens (save them to cook like chard later if you’d like). No need to peel the beets until after they’re roasted. Peel and seed the squash, and then cut it into bite-sized cubes.
Roast. Place the beets on aluminum foil, drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap up the beets tightly. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread the squash in an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Check the squash a few times to shake everything around. Remove the squash when it’s ready, about 45 minutes. The beets will take about an hour and a half (or shorter/longer depending on size of the beets), so leave them in the oven until the tip of a knife pierces easily. I generally check them after an hour.
Simmer. While the vegetables are roasting, bring to a boil 2 cups water and then add the wheat berries and a pinch of salt. Lower the temperature and simmer uncovered
Peel. When the beets are cool enough to handle, don a pair of gloves (I get my doctor friends to give me surgical gloves, but dedicated dish- washing gloves are great) and peel the skin right off.
Slice. Slice the beets into cubes around the same size as the squash.
Tear. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces.
Serve. Toss the leaves with the beets and squash and half the dressing. Add more dressing to taste.
Honey harissa dressing
Harissa is a spicy North African chili paste that you can find in Middle Eastern and kosher grocery stores. I highly recommend doubling or tripling this recipe and drizzling it over other vegetables later in the week.
- 4 T olive oil
- 1 t harissa
- 2 t honey
- 1 lemon for 2 -3 T juice
- 1/2 t cumin
Shake. Shake all the ingredients in a jar. Taste a green leaf dipped in the dressing and adjust as needed. I found that I needed to use at least a teaspoon of salt to counteract the honey. And if you like things spicy, add more harissa.