This warming and colorful butternut squash and whole grain salad combines sweet roasted squash and sticky dates with a fragrant and spiced freekeh and is perfect for fall and winter lunches. This dish works well with a variety of similar grains. Try replacing the freekeh with the same amount of the following grains—quinoa, millet, or farro. Try using 2 large sweet potatoes in place of the squash, and cook in the same way. You can also use chicory or arugula leaves instead of the radicchio.–Jodi Moreno and Sarah W. Caron
LC Why You Shouldn’t Freak At Freekeh Note
A lotta folks freak at the sight of something new. We understand the discomfort that can attend a new experience of trying, say, a new-to-you whole grain whole grain salad. But in this instance, there’s no need to get unduly worked up over freekeh, the whole grain in this salad. If you don’t care to try it or can’t find it, no worries. You can swap in brown rice or a different whole grain such as farro or barley. Whatever whole grain you fancy gets tossed with the familiar fall flavors of roast butternut squash, spices, and radicchio. (If it’s not autumn where you’re at, crank that AC down and turn that oven up, because it’ll soon taste like it is.) And if you’re the sort who likes to be overwhelmed with flavor, consider doubling the amount of spices in the recipe below.
Butternut Squash and Whole Grain Salad
For the whole grain salad
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium (about 2 lbs) butternut squash seeded and cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes
- 1 cup cracked freekeh, brown rice, kamut or other whole grain
- 1 small head radicchio coarsely chopped
- 8 dried pitted dates coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the whole grain salad
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Place the cinnamon, ginger, cumin, salt, and oil in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet, pour the spice mixture over the squash, and toss to coat. Bake in the oven until the squash is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the freekeh or other whole grain under running water and place in a large saucepan. Cover with 1 quart (4 cups) water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until almost all the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes if using freekeh. Remove from the heat, drain any remaining water, and let cool slightly.
Make the dressing
- Whisk together the oil, lemon, and honey in a bowl. Season to taste. Taste and adjust the amounts of oil and lemon juice as desired.
Assemble the whole grain salad
- Place the radicchio and dates in a large serving dish. Add the squash and freekeh and toss lightly to mix. Then pour in the dressing, season to taste, and toss until well combined. Sprinkle with parsley and serve the whole grain salad warm.
Whole Grain Salad With Cheese VariationIf it’s not necessary to keep this whole grain salad vegan or dairy-free, we strongly suggest crumbling some feta or goat cheese on it just after tossing everything together.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
It takes a lot to warrant an expressive response from my boyfriend in the critique of a vegetable dish. Yet this whole grain salad recipe garnered the comment “I was surprised vegetables could have so much flavor.” This recipe packs a lot of flavor while maintaining a simplicity of ingredients and preparation. I like the basics of the recipe, plus it’s highly adaptable ingredient-wise. The flavor combinations really hit the mark—no bite is boring. I substituted sweet potato for the butternut squash (which is a seasonal ingredient not yet available at the markets where I live). I found freekeh at my local grocery store in the natural food department. I boiled the freekeh for 15 minutes, and it seemed cooked. I used turnip greens because they I had them on hand. The spice on the sweet potatoes, the sweetness of the dates, and the bitterness of the greens were a fantastic combination. I also enjoyed the textures in this salad.
This was a very delicious salad. I opted to substitute wheat berries for the freekeh, as that is what I had on hand. The radicchio added a nice bitterness to the whole grain salad that complemented the sweet squash and dates. I also really enjoyed the contrast of the chewy wheat berries with the soft squash. To me, the salad dressing was a bit on the oily side. If I were to make this again, I would use half the oil. The radicchio was really expensive, as I don’t think it was in season. This salad made for a delicious lunch. I topped it with feta, and it was a really nice addition.
Originally published November 02, 2015