Fall Grain Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette

Somehow I’ve lost over a month! August ran away with Weddings, Baby Showers and late summer fun, and September is quickly slipping away into Autumn. I’m back and excited that my favorite season is upon us. I do have a recipe review from Isa Does It to write up but decided to make my return from hiatus with this grain salad all dressed up for fall and save the Isa post for next week.

This salad is very loosely inspired by something I’ve had at the Whole Foods Salad Bar. They have a grain salad I was certain was called Superfood Salad but when I tried to do some research online as to its ingredients the Superfood Salads that came up were cabbage based and most definitely not the salad I have in mind. No bother; I figured I’d create my own reminiscent of the Whole Foods version but amped up for the season.

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1/2 cup farro
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried whole cranberries
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale
Juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 green apple
1 pomegranate
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the farro and the quinoa according to package directions. I generally cook 1/2 cup of farro with 1 cup of water for about 30 minutes; the 1/2 cup quinoa, also in 1 cup of water, will cook faster (about 20 minutes) so I do cook them in separate small saucepans.

While the grains are cooking toast your pumpkin seeds slightly to enhance their nuttiness. I usually just put them on some foil in the toaster for a couple of minutes until fragrant (keep an eye on them they will toast quickly.

If your grocery has bulk bins check there for your grains and pumpkin seeds (pepitas). I rarely get to Whole Foods but my local Wegmans also has bulk bins and sometimes items are cheaper there; it’s also a good way to give a new food a try without too much commitment.

You can also prepare your kale while your grains are cooking. If you like raw kale go for it. I like to steam mine a bit; for this recipe I put the kale and the red onion in a pot with the juice of one lemon and a dash of cayenne. Turn the burner up to medium high and stir constantly until it’s nice and hot then remove from heat and cover to steam a minute or two. Alternatively, it will steam a bit if you add it directly to the hot grains once their finished (and you’ll save yourself a pot to wash).

Once the grains are cooked, add the pumpkin seeds, kale and red onion, tomatoes, and dried cranberries.

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If you can find Trader Joe’s Whole Dried Cranberries they are amazing, but I warn you that you will never be able to eat a Craisin again and will be making special trips to Trader Joe’s just for cranberries (not that I’ve done that or anything).

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I was considering making a cranberry vinaigrette but while researching I came across what seemed the perfect recipe and decided to just make that. The Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette from Oh She Glows was delicious and a great pairing. I drizzled a few spoonfuls to serve.

I garnished the salad with pomegranate, and thinly sliced apple. The dish is filling on its own but to make it an even heartier meal (or to stretch the leftovers further) you can also top with roasted squash.

1 squash (I used sweet dumpling squash)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (divided
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (divided)

Cut the squash in half and clean out the seeds. Place the squash cut side up in a roasting pan filled with about an inch of water. Add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the center of each squash. Cook at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Brush the squash with the maple mixture and slice to serve.

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