It took me a while, but I finally broke out the winter squash. I always feel like I need a few recipes to work through one butternut squash. This one is a winner and I encourage you to try it out.
This Butternut Squash Farinata is basically a variation on my Mediterranean Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche with winter herbs including thyme and sage speckled with silky orange jewels of butternut squash. Here it is paired with a lovely, albeit optional, Spinach Salad with Farro and a Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Together, it makes such a lovely meal, it is worthy of a special occasion.
I suppose it should be no surprise that the recipe comes from the self-titled cookbook from the famous vegan restaurant, Crossroads. Part of the reason Rob and I picked California for our latest trip was due to its abundant vegan options. We started in Los Angeles and definitely had our pick of fabulous vegan restaurants. We were happy we made reservations at Crossroads because it was surprisingly on a Monday evening.
I would have liked to share photos from that meal but it is very dimly lit. Located in Beverly Hills, Crossroads is an upscale vegan restaurant featuring Mediterranean favourites. At first glance, the meals don’t seem that impressive but once you realize everything is entirely vegan, you understand. This is a place to enjoy classic foods with simple twists to make delicious. And now, with the cookbook, we can start to make it at home, too.
The recipes span simple to more complex. We thoroughly enjoyed the heart of palm calamari in person and excited to see it in the cookbook. Unfortunately, we also really enjoyed our seitan at the restaurant (Rob and I each ordered different seitan dishes) but there are zero seitan recipes in the cookbook. It somehow missed the true main courses!
I am always a bit leery of restaurant cookbooks but this one looks great so far. There are quite a few reviews from other bloggers that have enjoyed the recipes. My few complaints about this recipe was that some simple works like “divided” were omitted which caused me to add too much oil to the farinata, since I forgot much of that was meant to grease the pan. It also took 45-50 minutes to bake instead of the recipe’s 30 minutes. I kind of expected that based on my quiche recipe, though, so it wasn’t a surprise. It however meant it took a bit longer to bake and by that time, the sun was low.. and I had to use ISO 5400 for these photos. They turned out pretty well, all things considering.
I am so excited about this cookbook and thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you cook from cookbooks from restaurants (and your favourite one, if you have one). The winner will be selected at random on December 14, 2015. Good luck!
Other recipes from Crossroads spotted elsewhere:
Butternut Squash Farinata with Arugula Salad and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Recipe reprinted, with permission, from Crossroads
Author’s note: Farinata is a rustic Italian bread made from chickpea flour that is often enjoyed as street food in Tuscany and Liguria. Typically baked in a hot cast-iron skillet, farinata has a golden, crisp outside and a soft, cakey center.
My friend Renee Frigo, who makes the award-winning Lucini olive oil, introduced me to farinata when she launched her Cinque e’ Cinque brand of chickpea flour. When I tasted it, I realized that farinata is much more than a simple bread—it can be a nutty-tasting canvas for endless toppings: here a hearty winter salad of farro and arugula, dressed with a tart pomegranate vinaigrette.
When you make the farinata, letting the batter rest results in a more complex flavor and less gritty texture. But if you’re in a hurry, just let it sit while you preheat the oven and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chickpea (or garbanzo bean) flour can be found in Italian markets and some grocery stores (Lucini’s Cinque e’ Cinque is available at Whole Foods). If you will be storing the flour for more than a month, keep it in the freezer to prevent it from turning rancid.
1.5 cups chickpea (or garbanzo bean) flour, such as Lucini or Bob’s Red Mill
2 cups filtered water, at room temperature
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided (Janet’s note: I don’t usually bake EVOO)
4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from the stems and chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves stripped from the stems and chopped (about 2 tablespoons) (Janet’s note: substituted fresh sage)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter stick
2 cups finely diced butternut squash
1 shallot, minced
8 lightly packed cups baby arugula (Janet’s note: I used chopped baby spinach)
2 cups cooked farro (see note) (Janet’s note: I used spelt berries)
1/2 cup Pomegranate Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate arils, or to taste (this was a Janet addition)
1. To prepare the farinata: Whisk together the flour and water in a mixing bowl until smooth and free of lumps. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, the thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper and whisk until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. Cover and let the batter stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or up to 2 hours if you have the time.
2. When ready to bake the farinata, preheat the oven to 425°F.
3. Whisk the batter again to bring it back together. Put a 10-inch cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the butter substitute and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, swirling the pan to coat. When all the butter substitute has melted, add the squash and shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spread the squash and shallot evenly in the skillet and pour the batter over it. Carefully transfer to the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the farinata is no longer wet in the center and the edges are browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan. (Janet’s note: This took more like 45-50 minutes) Remove the farinata from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
To serve: Flip the farinata onto a cutting board and cut into 8 wedges.
5. Combine the arugula and farro in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently with your hands.
6. Place a wedge of farinata in the center of each salad plate. Top with the salad, making sure to distribute the pomegranate seeds evenly. Spoon any extra vinaigrette on top so it soaks into the farinata.
Author’s note: This sweet-tangy vinaigrette marries well with peppery greens like dandelion. Leftovers will keep for 4 days covered in the refrigerator.
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (see Note)
1/2 shallot, minced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (Janet’s note: substituted fresh sage)
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (Janet’s note: omitted from the dressing)
1. Whisk together the pomegranate molasses, shallot, and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. Stir in the mint, parsley, and pomegranate seeds.
Makes 1 cup.
Farro is similar to wheat berries but better all around, as far as I’m concerned. I’m crazy about its hearty nuttiness and firm but chewy texture. Popular since the golden days of ancient Rome, this healthful whole grain stands up to everything from salads to soups. It is a rich source of vitamins and nutrients, as well as protein and fiber. Farro is available in most grocery stores and health food stores. Look for the semi-pearled variety, which allows for speedier cooking. Toasting farro in a dry pan before cooking makes the flavor extra nutty. I cook farro just like pasta, uncovered, in plenty of boiling salted water, and then drain. Some packages call for cooking farro like rice, tightly covered in a measured amount of water until the water is absorbed, but I find this method makes it a bit mushy.
Pomegranate molasses is a thick reduced syrup of pomegranate juice that has a tart and fruity flavor. A gorgeous deep reddish purple, the molasses is found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets, and it keeps almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. If pomegranate molasses is not available, pour 2 cups pure pomegranate juice into a small pot, put over medium-low heat, and boil until the juice has reduced to 1/4 cup and is thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Contest Rules: No purchase necessary. Contest period begins Saturday, December 5 2015 and ends Monday, December 14, 2015. For Canadian residents only. Approximate retail value US$35. Enter by writing a comment answering the prompt for a chance to win. Entrants must supply a valid email address. Winners will be notified by email and must respond within 48 hours.