Farro and roasted squash salad with spiced pumpkin seeds

Farro is an ancient grain from the wheat family, so it contains gluten. Most of the Farro you will find in stores is semi-pearled, with some of the bran shaved off to make it cook more quickly.  Cookbook author Robin Asbell shows us how to use it in a fall focused salad.

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Serves 4-6

1/2 cup farro (semi-pearled)
1 pound kabocha or other squash, 2 cups cubed
1 cup raw pepitas/hulless pumpkinseeds
1 teaspoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 small bosc pear, sliced
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a one quart pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil and add the farro. Return to a boil, then reduce to a vigorous simmer. Partially cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the farro grains start to burst and are tender to the bite. Drain the farro and let cool.Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut in wedges. If desired, peel. Cut in bite sized chunks, then place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss the squash to coat with oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Roast for 20 minutes, then test by piercing with a paring knife. When the squash is tender inside and browned on the outside, take out and cool.

Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar. Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. When the farro is cooled, spread on a large platter and top with the cooled squash, pears and feta. In a small cup, whisk the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon and maple syrup to mix. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, top with pepitas and serve.