Saturday, October 25, 2008
Is anyone still out there? I know it's been a while... Every October my body breaks down on me and this was no exception. I've only been cooking about once a week and mostly old standbys that are already up here, like cobb salad, chili and cornbread, great soups, comforting cookies and lots of bread. Today I finally got back in stride, just in time for a dinner party tomorrow. So first I'll share a great salad from a while back, then fast forward to todays treats in a later post.
Ever since my favorite contestant on last year's Top Chef made a salad of warm rice and cool greens, it has been one of my favorite combinations. I love using whole grains in place of the rice, and here the ancient grain spelt mingles with creamy smooth delicata squash and sweet beets. It's sort of my winter answer to the summery farro salad I love so much. Leave out the bacon and this becomes a delicious vegetarian main course. Either way, it is inexpensive and immensely satisfying. I took this to work and everyone loved it - even though a friend told me it had four things in it she had never eaten before in her life (spelt, beets, leeks, and delicata squash)!
Warm Spelt Salad over Crisp Greens with Roasted Veggies
1 lb. delicata squash, cleaned of seeds and cubed (no need to peel - delicata's thin skin become tender with cooking)
ancho chile powder
pumpkin pie spice
hickory smoked salt
2 beets, scrubbed clean and trimmed of greens
2 tsp butter
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 large leek, cleaned and white and pale green parts chopped into small half moons
3 cups veggie stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
8 oz container of baby greens
2 Tbsp grated parmaggiano reggiano (optional)
your favorite salad dressing (I like Annie's Naturals Shitake & Sesame Vinaigrette)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss delicata squash with olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with allspice, garlic & chile powders, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Roast until soft and creamy and slightly caramelized.
If you have the time, roast the beets in a salt crust. They will have a superior texture and flavor. If you're not feeling the time or effort, wrap them in a foil packet, coated with olive oil, and roast with the squash until fork tender. Cool before peeling and chopping.
In a medium saucepan, saute leeks and bacon in butter until bacon has rendered some of its fat. Add stock and seasonings and bring to a boil. Add spelt, reduce heat to low and cover, simmering and stirring occasionally until cooked through and tender - about 30-40 minutes.
For each serving, start with a bed of cold baby greens. Top with warm spelt salad, sprinkle with parmesan and apply salad dressing. The warmth of the spelt will slightly wilt the greens, and the vinaigrette helps all the flavors meld together.
Toss chopped roasted veggies, spelt, vinegar and parsley together.