Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Kabocha Squash and Crispy Chickpeas

This farro salad with roasted vegetables is a smooth way to transition into autumn and I am excited to share it with you all today. The night I made this salad we enjoyed it with pan-roasted salmon and I'd assume it would also pair beautifully with roasted chicken as well. I'm a huge fan of grain salads and the roasted eggplant and kabocha squash provided both sweetness and a tender bite! If you're not familiar with farro, it's one of the ancient grains (you know like: spelt, kamut, barley.. just to name a few!) and I don't like picking favorites but, I think it's the tastiest of the bunch. If you've never tried farro, it's soft yet has a desirable crunchiness to it and tastes nutty but is lighter than brown rice. Michael's even hooked on farro! If you have trouble finding it, I buy mine at Whole Foods in the bulk section and it can also be found online.

To be honest the crispy chickpeas were a bit of an afterthought and it probably shows in how the following recipe is written. I apologize and hope we can still be friends! I just wanted to share the crispy chickpea recipe because I thought it worked really well in this salad. For a lunch on Saturday, I used the leftover farro salad, and thought it needed a protein to make it a complete meal. So I decided to make a quick batch of crispy chickpeas. Crispy chickpeas are my go-to whenever I want to add a quick vegetarian protein into a meal. They always manage to add a great texture to salads and were especially memorable in this farro salad. On that note, I hope you can enjoy this salad and the crispy chickpeas as much as we did!

Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Kabocha Squash and Crispy Chickpeas
recipe adapated from here

for crispy chickpeas:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed; or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small onion, sliced thin 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake chickpeas with following ingredients for 20-25 minutes; tossing midway through cooking. The chickpea's skin should be crispy and browned. 

For the farro:
1 cup uncooked farro
1 bay leaf
2 cups vegetable broth or water

for the salad:
1 small kabocha squash, peeled and cut into ¼” thick cubes
1 medium eggplant, cut into ¼” thick cubes 
1 teaspoon cumin 
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
Handful cilantro or parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Optional: Sprinkle about a tablespoon of kosher salt onto the cubed eggplant and let sit in a colander for 30 minutes. Once you notice liquid beading onto the surface of the eggplant give it a quick rinse. To cook the farro, add the broth and bay leaf to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Decrease heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until farro is tender with a slight chew, 20-25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and transfer to a big serving bowl. To make the salad, in a large bowl toss the eggplant, kabocha squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and cumin. Place mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast the kabocha squash and eggplant until softened and browned, turning them once with a spatula in between, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet from the oven and add the warm roasted vegetable mixture, crispy chickpeas, minced garlic, pine nuts and cilantro to the farro. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar; tossing to combine and adding salt to taste. Serve immediately. 

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