Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries
This post is sponsored by Ocean Spray. All opinions are very obviously my own.
The menu for my family’s Thanksgiving is non-negotiable. With the exception of a sweet potato gratin that was tacked on to the menu a few years ago (my mom still doesn’t feel right about the addition), we’ve eaten the exact same feast for as long as I can remember: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sautéed green beans, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (we trashé like that), gravy and cranberry sauce. And yes, to this day we serve canned Ocean Spray® Cranberry Sauce at our dinner, both jellied and whole berry. I once made the cranberry sauce from scratch, and my messing with tradition nearly caused a riot, so…that’s one less thing for this weird blog lady to worry about on her favorite food holiday. Snaps for nostalgia.
If you’ve been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that while my holiday meal is set in stone, my friend Annie’s family likes to change up their menu every year. They do T-Day potluck style, and it’s my annual honor and privilege to provide Annie with an epic recipe for her contribution.
I take this task very seriously because I a.) love the Blaine family a lot, and b.) feel (self-imposed) pressure to provide something as mind-blowingly delicious as my very first sexy side offering: Sweet Potato Gratin with Pancetta, Parmesan, and Sage. That magical casserole apparently made Annie the Beyoncé of her family’s holiday celebration, and I’ve been proudly watching her throne every T-Day since.
Truth be told, I was feeling a little stuck on inspiration this year, so ‘twas lucky (fated?) that I got to visit Ocean Spray’s cranberry bog a few weeks ago. Not only did I fulfill my fantasy of wading through a sea of cranberries (!!!), but the on-site CranMas—aka cranberry farming grandmothers with wader pockets full of wisdom and deliciousness—had all kinds of delightful ideas for slightly non-traditional sides. One CranMa mentioned her endless love of butternut squash and cranberries together, and given my affinity for sweet and savory creations, I made a note to run with that idea. I experimented with a few different butternut-cranberry recipes, but the clear winner was this Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries.
I love this festive fall salad for so many reasons, people. First, it’s packed with an array of awesome fall flavors. I’m partial to farro for its nutty chew, and it’s the perfect base for cinnamon-scented butternut squash, tart-sweet Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and fresh scallions. The lemon dressing is bright and barely maple-sweetened with an awesome umami undertone thanks to a drizzle of soy sauce. It’s hearty, yet still light and provides a welcome contrast to some of the heavier Thanksgiving sides.
Second, this recipe is easy. Like, super easy. Roast some butternut squash cubes, simmer a couple cups of farro, make a simple dressing, add a handful of nuts and Craisins® Dried Cranberries, and toss. Done and done. Better still, the whole shebang can be prepped in advance, which is a huge selling point for a Thanksgiving side. (As the CranMas reiterated throughout Ocean Spray’s Thanksgiving Bootcamp, prepping as many of your sides as possible the day before will save your sanity on T-Day). In fact, I think this salad actually tastes better after a day in the fridge, when all the flavors have had plenty of time to mingle.
A few quick recipe notes/you do you options before I leave you. Gluten-free peeps, you can easily substitute brown rice for farro and tamari for soy sauce. If you’re not a butternut fan, sweet potatoes are also delicious in this salad, and don’t hesitate to use whatever nuts you happen to have on hand. (I’m into the idea of pecans or almonds here.) This salad certainly doesn’t need cheese, but cheese lovers should feel free to add a sprinkling of goat cheese or feta into the mix.
Fingers crossed this recipe slays both the Blaine family’s Thanksgiving table this Thursday and yours. And if you’re still in the market for last minute recipes, Ocean Spray has you covered with everything you need to make your Thanksgiving a memorable meal. You can also chat live with CranMa on Facebook about any and all holiday questions! (Hallelujah.)
Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries: (Serves 6-8 as a side)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups cubed squash)
2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1½ cups pearled or semi-pearled farro
Juice of 1½ lemons
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Preparing your Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries:
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
-Place the butternut squash cubes in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and a small pinch of cayenne pepper and toss to combine, making sure each cube is coated.
-Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little bit of space between each cube.
-Roast the squash for 35-40 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time, until the squash is tender and lightly browned. Set aside and let cool slightly.
-While the squash is roasting, cook the farro according to the package directions.
-In a large mixing bowl, whisk the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Add the cooked farro to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Add the roasted butternut squash, walnuts, Craisins® Dried Cranberries and scallions and gently fold all the ingredients together. Taste and season with freshly ground pepper and a little extra salt (if needed).
-Serve warm or at room temperature.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray®. The opinions and text are all mine.
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