After a long Winter, everyone is eager for Spring. It’s so wonderful to go into farmers’ martkets and co-op, or maybe you visit a local farm or are participate in Community Supported Agriculture, and see these first Spring vegetables arriving. Though I have planted my spring garden, all I currently see are little, encouraging green shoots and leaves, and so I was excited to find some beautiful radishes at the farmer’s market last weekend. I was tempted to slice them up immediately and spread them on whole wheat bread with a nice slab of butter sprinkled with Maldon salt (on of my favorite ways to eat new spring radishes), but I held off in order to make a version of the “Thyme Farrotto with Roasted Radishes and Radish Greens,” from the wonderful cookbook “Whole Grains for a New Generation.”
I didn’t have any farro in the house, so I substituted wheat berries, which are similar (though do take quite a long time to cook). I cooked the wheat berries in vegetable stock and thyme , and when it was soft but toothsome, finished it with a tablespoon of butter and a bit more yogurt (instead of the creme fraiche in the original recipe. Meanwhile, I roasted the radishes and greens (after tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper) until the radishes browned and started to shrivel, and the greens crisped. While they look beautiful here (and in the cookbook) the greens will be easter to eat if you chop them a bit first! This simple recipe really let the radishes shine.
I 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
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.