the winds have started to roll in. soft at first, a breeze that ripples the naked branches and sends the fallen leaves on a coast. and then she gathers herself a little more – an invisible serpentine force that sifts through the windchimes, allowing us a muted chorus of daydreams. all the while she’s building up for the days where we’re under permanent wind warnings. tempestuous, unbridled, passionate gusts that conjure tear and tantrum. hysterical musings of unrestrained carriage across miles of prairie. never to elicit any single emotion, but sure to make you gasp if you aren’t expecting.
in my mind the wind marks the transition. the solidarity of long days into the sharp punctuation of short ones. it will last into the first half of spring and eventually dissipate, lacing an almost ironic stillness through the warmer weather. we’ll fight her vigor and persistence in the early spring when our seed starts are begging to taste their roots to the earth. she’ll dismiss herself for weeks (sure to be on her demise), and then after that full-moon night that you decide to plant she’ll come back stronger than ever and crush the leaves of your fawning (truth). we cannot reckon with her, will not side with her, and must work around her. the wind is fierce here in the midwest, an element i took lightly until moving out here.
and my point to all of this clamor? well, now that the winds are here – thanksgiving is truly next week (as it truly is). here the winds are the marked and rapid approach to the warmth and glow of the year end festivities.
delicata is a treasured squash. it retains a favored sweetness, which inevitably pairs well with the savory. it has varieties known as ‘sugar loaf’, and ‘honey boat’ – (what more is there to decide on loving?). you are able to roast it whole, and eat the tender squash in its entirety, no skinning required. its seasonal presence is also symbolic of the holidays for us. my contribution for the thanksgiving table is a vegetarian main option – stuffed delicata squash with an autumn farro salad. a graceful song to sing, and one that resonates in flavor and form. may your holiday preparations be on a rhythmic and smooth wing (free from gusting winds).
- 2 large delicata squash, halved
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 / 4 tsp hot hungarian paprika (optional)
- 2 sprigs rosemary, cut into 4 halves
- 1 cup farro
- 3 cups water/vegetable broth
- 1 bulb fennel, shaved and chopped
- 1 small bunch scallions, white and green parts chopped
- 4 ounces winter greens/arugula*
- 1 / 2 cup pistachio, crushed
- arils of 1 pomegranate
- 1 / 4 cup tahini
- juice of 1 medium orange
- zest of 1 / 2 orange
- 1 tbl dijon mustard
- 1 / 2 tsp fresh thyme
- preheat oven to 425 degrees. remove inner pulp and seeds from delicata (reserve for roasting if desired). drizzle squash with oil, rub in, and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper. if using hungarian hot paprika, mix it with the cumin - otherwise, sprinkle cumin over squash. place squash on a large sheet pan, cut side down, and place one half of rosemary beneath each squash (this is to impart essence, rosemary may either be discarded at the end or added to the farro salad). bake for 20-25 minutes, until fork can be inserted into skin tenderly. allow to cool slightly upon removal from oven.
- meanwhile assemble farro salad: toast farro in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant and nutty. add 3 cups of water or vegetable broth and bring to a light boil. cover and boil 15 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and grain is cooked. if needed, drain any excess liquid.
- in a large bowl combine farro, fennel, scallions, winter greens/arugula, pistachio, and pomegranate. in a medium bowl whisk together tahini, orange juice, orange zest, mustard, and thyme.
- serve squash halves filled with farro salad and topped with tahini.