Farro with Butternut Squash, Grapes, and Feta

Even though the past few days have been a bit gloomy here in the Northeast, it’s been warm enough that I’ve been craving light, fresh, vibrant food instead of solid, stodgy, comfort eats. The sight of my daffodils and tulips still peeking hopefully through their fresh blanket of snow on Monday was inspiring, and a health kick has ensued. Coach Kiwi has got me on an eight-week training plan that will get me ready for a summer of riding, running, and *fingers crossed* a triathlon! I haven’t done one in ages due to the hip niggle that just wouldn’t quit, so I’m stoked to begin this season injury-free and with a fire in my belly. Circuit workouts have been my training buddy lately, and I’m hoping that this will help activate all those little muscles that you never usually notice until an injury rears its ugly head and the PT is reminding you that you really need to keep on top of strength training. Check out the Workout section for some of the killer sessions that the Kiwi has me doing! Guaranteed to leave you feeling a bit wobbly 😉

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The salad below has become one of my healthy go-to dishes to bring to potlucks, have for lunch a few days in a row, or as a dinner side with some salmon. It’s incredibly easy, and wonderfully filling while also being light in the belly. Farro is one of the new “it” grains here in the U.S., but it was actually found in Egyptian tombs and is believed to have been one of the mainstays of the Roman soldiers. #funfacts If the high fiber, zinc, and B3 of farro helped fuel the Romans in building an empire, I’m sure it can help sustain us in our daily grind!

Parsley is another nutrient powerhouse that most people disregard as a garnish that’s left on the plate. Hiding in those bright green leaves, however, are massive amounts of folic acid and Vitamins C and A and a reputation as a breath freshener (who needs that after-dinner mint when you can gnaw on some parsley?!?). Since finding out parsley’s superhero status, I’ve gone out of my way to incorporate it into salads, smoothies, and pesto (yes, you can make pesto out of pretty much any herb, not just basil!). An entire bunch may seem like far too much, but I guarantee that it will be less once chopped, and it adds a brightness to the salad that is perfect for spring!

Farro with Butternut Squash, Grapes, and Feta (serves 6)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash (2 – 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
salt & pepper
3 cups broth (vegetable or chicken), see Note below
1 cup farro
1 lb. grapes
6 oz. feta, crumbled
1 bunch parsley (either flat-leaf or curly)
juice of 1 lemon

Note: while making your own stock is the bomb, not everyone has the time to do so. I’ve been using Better than Bouillon for ages now, and the fact that it’s a tiny jar that has 38 servings in it and makes everything I use it in taste awesome is the reason I keep going back to it. (just my personal opinion – not endorsed!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for approx. 30 min. until tender, stirring with a spatula every 5 min. so they don’t stick to the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in a medium pot and add farro. Return to a boil, turn down heat to medium-low, and simmer until al dente, about 30 min. Start tasting the farro at 20 min. every few min. to see if it’s done. Drain the remaining broth if there is any that hasn’t been absorbed.
  3. Slice the grapes in half. This can be a bit tedious, so if you’re in a time-crunch you can omit this. I think they blend in a bit better when they’re smaller, though!
  4. Remove the stems from the parsley, but no need to be super-picky here and pick off every leaf individually! I usually just take the bunch of parsley in one hand and slice the stems off of all of it at once. If there are any remaining stems that look on the larger side, remove those. Then coarsely chop the parsley.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the squash, farro, grapes, parsley, and feta and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and plenty of black pepper and enjoy! Great either warm or cold!

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