Yes, another salad. I’m still coming down from all the rich eating I did while traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday (I promise we’ll talk about that food one of these days).
But this is not a salad to dread, it’s a salad to celebrate! It’s hearty with chewy, nutty wheat berries and plenty of roasted squash. Spicy toasted squash seeds counter a lightly sweet lemon-honey vinaigrette and creamy feta cheese adds just the right tangy punch. Layer all that with the fact that eating healthfully this week will help you feel great about diving headfirst into holiday baking next. Perfect.
We just need a few ingredients to make this salad: a pair of delicata squash, a cup of wheat berries, a bunch of scallions, and a block of feta. We’ll need some honey, lemon, and oil a little later but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Get the wheat berries going, then we’ll tackle everything else.
Next, prep the squash. There are 2 reasons I love delicata squash. 1 is that it is incredibly tasty, the other is that it’s blessedly easy to work with. If you’ve ever found yourself cursing a beastly hard squash and nearly severing your hand while attempting to break it down, you’ll appreciate that fact that this squash is a little softer, the size is manageable, and the skin is perfectly edible. Hurrah! Just cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, whack off the ends, and chop it into half moons. Save the seeds–we’ll roast them to add a nutty crunch to our salad.
Rinse and dry the seeds and toss them onto 1 baking sheet, place the sliced squash on another. Treat both to a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Pop both sheets in the oven, but keep a close eye on the seeds; they’ll be good and crunchy in about 8 minutes, black and burnt in 10.
While that’s happening, we’ll mix up a vinaigrette to dress the salad. We’re going to use lemon as our acid to brighten things up and a spoonful of honey to counter the spice.
When the squash is tender with dark, caramelized splotches and your wheat berries are finished simmering, toss them together in a big bowl with the sliced green onions.
Top the salad with crumbles of feta cheese and a smattering of toasted squash seeds. This is so good, I may never get to my holiday baking…or maybe not.
- 1 c. Wheat Berries
- 2 Delicata Squash
- about ½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper, divided
- 4 Scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. Feta Cheese
- For the Dressing:
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- zest of ½ Lemon
- 1 tsp. Honey
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
- Combine wheat berries with 3 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 45 minutes-1 hour. Drain.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° and prepare the squash. Cut off the tops and bottoms of each squash and then cut each in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Save the seeds, as we'll use them to garnish the salad. Rinse the seeds well and remove any stringy bits of squash, pat dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Cut the squash into ¼ in. thick slices and place on a second baking sheet. Drizzle the squash pieces and seeds lightly with olive oil, season with salt. Sprinkle about ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper over the seeds and the remaining ¼ tsp. cayenne over the squash. Toss well to coat. Roast the seeds until they are lightly browned and very crunchy, 7-8 minutes; roast the squash, flipping it halfway through, until it is soft and browned in spots, about 35 minutes.
- While the wheat berries are cooking and the squash is roasting, make the dressing. Combine the oil, lemon juice and zest, and honey in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until the honey dissolved and the dressing has emulsified. Season with about a ¼ tsp. salt and a few twists of black pepper.
- Combine the drained wheat berries, roasted squash, and sliced scallions in a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Crumble the feta over the top of the salad and sprinkle with the toasted squash seeds just before serving. The salad is delicious served warm or straight from the refrigerator.