Roasted butternut farro balls and rosemary walnut tarator sauce

Roasted butternut farro balls

Roasted butternut farro balls

It’s a very slow, cold spring. Everybody is upset by it, everybody is complaining bitterly, everybody is angry with that stupid lying groundhog. Everybody except me. It’s very strange, but I don’t mind. I’m not quite through hibernating yet. I feel like maybe something’s wrong with me! And you might agree, when I tell you that I’m a little anxious about summer. Not about the long, endless days with the boys, which are days that I crave. It’s hard to describe. I feel as though I’ve slowly pulled layer upon layer of something strong and warm over myself and my family, to keep us cozy and secure. And in summer the boys will burrow out and run like mad little things in all directions, laughing and glowing, with barely a glance back, and it will all go so fast and be over before we know it. It’s a very strange feeling, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like this before, although in retrospect it might have been creeping up on me with slow sneaky progress for a few years now. TS Eliot famously said that April is the cruelest month, I think that people frequently misinterpret this line. They think April is cruel because it just won’t be warm and sunny, dammit. Just when you’re ready for spring it’s all chilly and drizzly with those April showers. But what he really meant was that April is cruel because it wakes you up.

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

I suppose I’ve gotten too comfortable this winter, with dull days that please me so much and go by so fast–just keeping my family warm and feeding them roasted tubers, and then writing about that and starting all over again. It’s hard to do anything very important when you’re too comfortable, but I’m also convinced that the day to day of every day is as important as life gets, so I’m not easily motivated. I’m sure it’s just the chill and the damp that folds me in on myself. Already the slanting hopeful rosy light of morning and evening is rousing me from my wintery dormancy, but gently and kindly. When the weather is warmer on top of that I’ll feel all the old unspecified longings and yearnings, which must visit you no matter what your age. I’ll be ready to go on adventures again. And if the warmth won’t do it, Malcolm will! He’s so full of life and plans, he’s so curious and fearless. I want to be like him when I grow up, so I may as well start now! And maybe summer will surprise us, and we’ll stop in the colonnade, and go on in the sunlight.

In the meantime, we’re still eating winter squash, here at The Ordinary. And I’m still experimenting with the joys of grating and roasting it. It’s so nice and soft and crispy and sweet and savory all at the same time! In this instance, I mixed it with some leftover farro and some walnuts and made it into little balls. I fried them up in olive oil, so they’re crispy outside and soft in. The flavors are sage, smoked paprika and nutmeg – I suppose they’re flavors I associate with a sausage-y taste, so these could pass for vegetarian meatballs, or if you made them long and thin, they could be vegetarian sausage. We ate them with tender whole wheat flatbreads, which I’ll tell you about soon, arugula, which went so nicely with the nuttiness of the walnuts, and a creamy (cream-free) walnut rosemary tarator sauce. The sauce turned out very good, and would be nice with any kind of roasted vegetable – beets, potatoes, parsnips, any of those old dried tubers. In the summer, it would be nice with grilled zucchini and asparagus as well!! If you don’t have leftover farro, I’ve told you how to make it, and you can use the extra to toss on salads, or as a base for sauces and stews.

Here’s Nina Simone with Another Spring.


1 smallish butternut squash
2 T olive oil
1 t dried sage
1 plump clove garlic
1 cup cooked farro (see below)
1/2 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t smoked paprika
pinch nutmeg
2 eggs
plenty of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the squash, scoop out the seeds, and cut the flesh into large chunks. Run these through a food processor to grate. (Or grate by hand) Toss with olive oil and sage, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Slice through the skin of the garlic clove and put it in a small dish or on the edge of the baking sheet.

Roast the squash for 35 to 40 minutes till it’s soft and fragrant and flecked with brown caramelized bits. Stir frequently as it cooks, because the outside pieces will brown first, and you want to work them into the center.

When the garlic is soft inside and the papery skin is dry and brown, take it out of the oven. (This might take twenty minutes or so.)

Put the squash in a bowl and add all of the other ingredients. Remove the skin from the garlic, and smush the insides, then stir this into the mix. Stir to mix well. Form into little balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches across.

In a wok or frying pan, warm olive oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/3 inch. When it’s hot enough to sizzle a breadcrumb, carefully drop in as many butternut balls as will comfortably fit. Fry till they’re brown on all sides – a few minutes each side. Remove to a piece of paper towel to drain, and then keep in a warm oven until you’re ready to eat.

THE WALNUT TARATOR SAUCE

1 cup walnuts
2 pieces whole wheat bread, crumbled
2 t rosemary, chopped
1 clove garlic, toasted or roasted (as described above)
1 t sherry vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 cup water (+/-)
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

HERBED FARRO

1 T olive oil
1 t oregano
1 t basil
2 bay leaves
1 cup farro
3 cups water
salt & pepper
butter

Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the herbs and then the farro. Stir to coat with oil, and then cook for about five minutes, till it starts to smell toasty and look golden. If it gets too brown, or the herbs start to smell burnt, add the water right away.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook at a slow boil for about 20 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. The grains should be al dente. Leave on the warm burner to sit for about five minutes. Stir in butter, salt and pepper, fluff with a fork.

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