Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese

By Hetty McKinnon
February 16, 2017
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Author Notes: The natural sweetness of medjool dates and cinnamon-roasted butternut squash is beautifully harmonized with the nuttiness of wheatberry grains and the saltiness of blue cheese. A hearty salad for sharing with family and friends.Hetty McKinnon

Food52 Review: This salad has many of my favorite things: sweet, caramelized dates, funky blue cheese, spiced, roasted squash, and peppery arugula. The flavors balance perfectly with one another, amped up by a bright squeeze of lemon and some green parsley. The wheatberries (or farro, as I used) bulk it out, making it a great Not Sad Desk Lunch—just toss the whole thing with a light vinaigrette right before eating, so the arugula doesn’t wilt.The Editors

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Serves: 4 as a first course or side

  • ¾ cups wheatberries or farro, rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove, skin removed
  • 3 cups chopped butternut squash (500g/1lb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medjool dates, seeds removed and quartered
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • handfuls flat leaf parsley leaves, torn (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3.5 ounces blue cheese (stilton or gorgonzola are my fave), crumbled
  • handfuls toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F / 190˚C.
  2. Place a medium pot of salted water on medium-high heat and add the wheatberries and garlic clove. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes until the grains are soft. Wheatberries take closer to an hour, but if you choose to use farro, taste it earlier as it cooks a bit quicker. Drain and mash up the garlic with the grains.
  3. Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and scatter over the cinnamon, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil. [Editor's note: Cinnamon works well in this dish, but if you want to switch things up try sprinkling the squash with cumin, coriander, or paprika,} Toss everything to combine. Roast in hot oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until squash is golden and tender.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the dates and turn them for just 1 to 2 minutes, until they are caramelized and sticky. The skin will be slightly crispy. Remove from heat and sprinkle with a big pinch of sea salt.
  5. Combine the grains with the butternut squash, arugula and parsley. Drizzle over some olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and season well with sea salt and black pepper. To serve, scatter over the dates, blue cheese and walnuts.

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