Fall Grain Salad with butternut, shitake, leek, sage and brown butter

fall grain saladI love hearty winter wheat berries , the little brown grains have such a wonderful spring-back after cooking, and hold-up to heavier additions in a fall or winter salad. Last evening I was looking for a recipe that could incorporate my fall ingredients – leeks, butternut squash, sage, and some dried shitake mushrooms, but nothing seemed quite right. So I just made one up. This is a perfect comforting, hearty lunch if you’re stuck in an office with a microwave. And if I had a log of goat cheese, I might have put some in, but it’s delicious without.

Fall Grain Salad with butternut, shitake, leek, sage and brown butter

2 cups cooked hard winter wheat berries (you can actually cook these in your rice cooker!)

2 cups roasted butternut squash cubes (about 1/2 of a medium squash)

1 large leek


2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/8 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/4 c. dried shitake mushrooms

white wine

salt and pepper

While the winter wheat is cooking is the squash is roasting, thinly slice the leek, up to the leaves, and saute on medium-low heat in butter (or oil) until it softens. Add the chopped garlic and sage,  and saute until the garlic softens. In a separate saucepan, melt 1 Tbs. butter (if you are using oil, skip this step). Allow the butter to cook, periodically scraping the saucepan, until it becomes brown and toasty. Stir-in the dried mushroom, and then add 1 cup of white wine. Allow to simmer until the sauce reduces to about 1/2 cup. Combine the winter wheat, squash, leeks, and mushrooms with sauce together. Salt and pepper to taste.


Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables


Quinoa is a near perfect food, and an easy grain to fold into almost any soup, salad, casserole, or main dish. This quick fall salad braises instead of roasts your winter vegetables, without sacrificing that golden flavor. I was treated to a similar dish the other night at a friends how, but she used roasted turnips, onions, rutabaga, sweet potato, and garlic – delicious! Many different combinations of fall / winter vegetables can be delicious in this dish. Just keep in mind their cooking times!

Fall Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

1 cup quinoa

1 T. Olive Oil

2. Tbs. unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves

1 small onion

4 ounces extra-firm or high-protien tofu

1 cup cremini mushrooms

1 small butternut squash

fresh sage leaves

1 cup finely sliced kale

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

red wine

salt and pepper 

garnish with chopped nuts or seeds, if you wish


Put 1 cup on quinoa in a medium saucepan with 2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the “tails” on the quinoa appear (about 25 minutes).


Meanwhile, peel and dice into one-half inch cubes 1 small (orn on-half of a large) butternut squash. Place the dice in a dish with a bit of water and microwave until “al-dente” (about 5 mintues).


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter. Add 4 ounces of finely diced, extra firm tofu and fry until it begins to crisp. Lower the heat, and Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and 1 small sliced onion, cooking on medium-low until soft. Add the mushrooms, raising the heat to medium-high, stir frequently until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the squash dice, and 6 -8 sliced fresh sage leaves,  turning every few minutes until the squash starts to brown .When all the vegetables are deep golden, addthe kale, and stir. Add the fresh cranberries and a generous splash of red wine, then cover the saucepan. The sugars from the wine and the cranberries with caramelize the vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables generously with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the roasted vegetables and either cheese (feta is good, or gorgonzola) or a vegan cheese sauce.

December GRID Happy Hour Tonight

December Grid

Hey everyone! Our favorite magazine about sustainability in Philadelphia hits the stands today! Check out my recipe for butternut squash and mushroom lasagna (pictured below) in the print addition or online.

GRID Cover December 2009 And join us to celebrate its release:

WHERE: The Abbaye (3rd and Fairmount)
WHEN: 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9
$3 drafts and ½ price appetizers!

See you there!

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagne

Modo Mio menu turista


I’ve been trying to get to Modo Mio for months and months, but circumstances keep thwarting me. When I finally made it, I decided to go with the menu turista – the “tourist” or pre fix menu – in order to sample as many dishes as possible. Above the the barbabietola, an antipasti of roasted beets, toasted almonds, baby arugula, anchovy (which they kindly left off for me) and a truffle vinaigrette. It was a revelation! Why haven’t I been putting truffle oil on my baby greens? I started at home immediately. Beets perfectly roasted, and everything salted a little extra (I suspect) due to the absence of anchovies. Perfect.


I could eat pasta all day, but limited myself to one course, the butternut squash tortelloni with sage butter. The butter was perfect, the filling perhaps a tad too sweet (more like pie than squash), but overall well executed.


You can never have too many vegetables. We added a side of broccoli rabe, which I’m usually not into, but was let bitter than usual, with a healthy dose of garlic and oil.


The pepperoni, a melrose pepper stuffed with polenta and served with a saffron mayo and a sprinkle of montasio (similar to queso fresco) cheese was lovely. Who doesn’t love a breaded and fried pepper? And it had never crossed my mind to stuff peppers with polenta. Now it will.

fig tart
fig tart

I’m usually uninterested in dolce, but it comes with the menu. I ordered a fig tart with marscapone. The figs were fresh, lightly glazed and delicious, but the tart crust was stiff and gummy. I ate the figs off, and left the rest.

Modo Mio is a small and very popular establishment, full even on weekdays. Certainly make a reservation if you plan to go, and enjoy the intimate space (and lovely antique buffet table that holds linens and serves as a giant bread board). And go ahead and order the turista menu – at $33 it’s a delicious steal. Add BYOB status, and I can’t wait to take friends and out-of-town guests!

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