Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese

February 16, 2017
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 4 as a first course or side
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 Lui McKinnon

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  • Handful flat leaf parsley leaves, torn (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3.5 ounces blue cheese (stilton or gorgonzola are my fave), crumbled
  • Handful 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • QueenOfGreen
  • AntoniaJames
  • Helen
  • Susan Ferrell
    Susan Ferrell

7 Reviews

QueenOfGreen March 4, 2024
First, let me tell you how much I DO NOT LIKE DATES. Second, let me tell you how incredibly satisfying crunchy, caramelized dates are! A revelation! I'm floored. (Had to substitute a wild/brown rice blend for the wheatberries, because my stomach hates me, but the recipe still works!)
AntoniaJames August 30, 2023
How did I miss this one? Definitely going to try this one, and I'm not waiting until Thanksgiving!! Looks like the perfect fall lunch, adding the arugula right before serving, swapping in pepitas or toasted sunflower seeds (or rosemary-roasted walnuts) for the walnuts, for variety. ;o)
Susan F. May 3, 2021
I agree with the other reviewers. This is a delicious salad, and I have now made it several times. I now consider sautéing dates anytime they are called for in a recipe
Helen January 29, 2021
LOVE this salad. There could be endless riffs on it (use spinach or kale). I used and loved Farro. The more walnuts the better. In short, a real keeper.
noir November 27, 2019
LOVE this salad! My better half is not a fan of blue cheese which I replaced with goat cheese and both variations are delicious! 5 Stars, unbeatable!
One time I was short on time and made barley instead of farro - great grain to pair with this salad! Thank you for sharing!
Jeanette January 13, 2019
Gosh , my husband loved this salad (as did I). I went a little lighter on the wheat berries and dates because of his blood sugar issues - but the complimentary flavors and hunger satisfying nature was terrific. Don't substitute for the arugula. Roasted & salted dates, oh my!
marigoldr November 22, 2018
it was a delicious dish with many interesting tastes..would make it again!