A tighter, simpler holiday meal
A salad? A stuffing? This colorful Lemon, Farro, and Wild Rice Salad is tasty and vibrant, and it can easily sit as a side dish on your holiday table or stuff a squash for a vegetarian entrée.

A tighter, simpler holiday meal

This farro and wild rice salad is a perfect side dish that can easily slip into a baked squash to create a delicious vegetarian entrée

BELLOWS FALLS — This will be a holiday season to remember - not for its excesses, but for its smaller scope as many families limit their numbers.

The menu might be a little tighter, a little simpler; perhaps it will highlight favorite dishes or those that carry the most tradition in your home. Maybe you are all eating together online, or having a Zoom dessert you've all made in your respective homes.

While we might be used to having a turkey, all its trimmings, and multiple sides, if there are just a few at the table, other options might make more sense. A smaller roasted or stuffed turkey breast or thigh; the gravy, of course; and just a small selection of those things you like the best.

We'll have just one pie this year, and I'm keeping it simple - either an apple galette, or a Nantucket cranberry pie. Both are quick to put together but are packed with flavor. And if multiple families are making the same dessert, these are both quick and easy.

My mantra this year is ease. Since our gathering is for two, I'm not planning on making eight sides, but I will settle on just one or two besides the mashed potatoes - an absolute must - and always a salad.

If a dish can serve double duty, all the better. This farro and wild rice salad is a perfect side dish that can easily slip into a baked squash to create a delicious vegetarian entrée. It uses two grains for lots of texture, and it has a pronounced lemony flavor.

If you like, swap oranges for the lemons or use another grain, such as lentils or brown rice. You can also use a pear instead of an apple, or you can leave the fruit out altogether.

Triple duty? The leftovers are quite tasty rolled up in a tortilla!

Lemon, Farro, and Wild Rice Salad (or Stuffing)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add:

¶1 Tbsp. salt

¶1 cup wild rice

Bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. This will take about 45 minutes or so. While the rice cooks, bring a second pot of water to a boil and do the same with:

¶1 Tbsp. salt

¶1 cup farro, whole or pearled

Cook both of these grains like pasta. The timing will depend on what type you chose: the whole farro will take 30 minutes or so, while the pearled will take only 15. Just keep testing it until it is at the texture you want.

In both cases, the cooking time of these grains will depend on lots of things: the briskness of your simmer, the age of the grains, and even the subtle differences in varieties. So just go by your own instincts and what you want for texture.

Once the grains are cooked and drained, set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk:

¶Juice and zest of 2 lemons

¶1 Tbsp. maple syrup

¶2 Tbsp. fruity olive oil

¶1 Tbsp. grainy mustard

¶2 garlic cloves, finely minced

Once combined, add:

¶{1/2} medium sweet onion, minced

¶1 watermelon radish, chopped (save a slice to garnish)

¶2 or 3 mini sweet peppers, chopped

¶1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced (optional)

¶2 Tbsp. dried cranberries

¶1 cup chopped flat-leafed parsley

¶2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds or nuts

¶1 small apple, diced, optional

Add the grains to the bowl, and mix well. Add salt and pepper, and taste, correcting the seasoning to what you like. Do you need more acid? More sweetness?

For a salad: Simply plate atop some peppery arugula or lettuce, and garnish any way you like! You can add a bit more lemon zest at the end, then garnish with some flaked sea salt or more seeds or nuts.

To stuff a squash: Cut a delicata, acorn, or other small squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Rub with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 425 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

Mound the filling in the squash and pop back in the oven, drizzling with a little more olive oil, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or so, or until a knife inserted in the flesh comes out easily.

* * *

We're all trying to be as frugal as we can with our food purchases during this time of COVID-19, avoiding unnecessary trips to the market and monitoring kitchen waste.

In that spirit, this next recipe makes use of Brazil nuts, which are often left behind from a bag of mixed nuts, and radish tops, which are usually tossed away.

Radish Top and Lonely Brazil Nut Pesto

In a food processor, combine:

¶2 to 3 radishes, plus the tops from additional ones

¶3 cloves garlic

¶{1/3} cup Brazil nuts, chopped

¶{1/2} cup extra virgin olive oil

¶zest and juice of 1 lemon

¶a few basil leaves (if you have them)

¶1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Pulse until you arrive at the desired texture, then season with salt and pepper.

Gold out of straw.

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