Where Cooking Begins' Grains and Roasted Squash with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing-Famous Fridays

Woo-hoo! It’s Friday! Boy, was this a busy week! We are back from our CA adventure—so much fun, so much sun—the weather really is gorgeous there and so is all the food—we walked and hiked and ate and went to the beach and ate and visited with our son and daughter-in-law and ate—yup, we certainly had our fill (gotta love those year-round farm-fresh strawberries and farmer’s markets and bakeries!!) and I’ve returned inspired and refreshed (albeit a little stiff) and ready to share a whole new slew of delicious recipes with you.


As promised, today is the second of my winter squash offerings and it comes straight from the pages of Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music, the food director for Bon Appétit Magazine and my Famous Fridays pick for this week. Guys, this roasted squash and grain salad topped with a spicy buttermilk dressing is not only addictively delicious but so good for you too! I promise you’re going to love it and this amazing new book as well. It might even change the entire way you approach your time in the kitchen! Here’s why…

Where Cooking Begins is filled with a whole lot of stellar, but down-to-earth recipes but it’s probably the philosophy of Carla’s cooking style that I think I’m most taken with. In the introduction to the book, she gives you 8 little tips that encapsulate how she makes it easier and happier to feed her friends and family. I’ve pared them down but basically they are: 1) Cook what you’re hungry for, 2) Shop small, often and in person for the food that excites you, 3) Shop online for the staples that don’t change season by season, 4) Buy only what you have room to store, 5) Cook what you buy and use it up, 6) Don’t feel obligated to absolutely stick to a recipe (unless of course it’s a baking one and even then you can tinker with flavors as long as you keep proportions the same) 7) Don’t run out to the store to get one crazy spice—just replace it with something else, 8) And finally, never forget that there‘s always salt and pepper.

Don’t you just love all of those?!! They just make so much sense to me—I hate being rigid in the kitchen and overthinking meal planning which inevitably leads to wasting food when I go the big-batch route, so I’m definitely going to incorporate more of her ideas about shopping and cooking smaller and more often and making what you’re in the mood for on that particular day or highlighting something that’s on sale at the store or that you find at the farmers market rather than sticking to some pre-arranged plan. Hope that helps you to enjoy cooking for yourself and your loved ones too!


Anyhoo, enough talk, let’s get to this very yummy and appropriately seasonal salad. Grains and roasted veggie bowls seem to be all the rage and now you can make your very own at home whenever you want for far less money too! This one features roasted butternut squash (a personal favorite of mine) and farro but you could really sub in any grain or roasted veggie you like or have on hand. Versatility is the name of the game here!

Do you farro often? I foolishly do not, but I will now. I love, love, love its chewy texture and it’s such a healthy grain too—full of fiber, protein, antioxidants and other good stuff. It really benefits from an overnight soak in water (makes it much easier to digest) so if you can, plan ahead.


Then on Day 2 you simply boil till al dente.

Meanwhile, you roast the squash till it’s tender and caramelized and so sweet! Yum!


While all of that’s happening you toss together the spicy buttermilk dressing which adds just the right creaminess and zing to the salad. First, you toss the warm farro with it so that it deliciously coats all those chewy little bites—

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And then once you’ve assembled the salad, you drizzle it on top. It’s so colorful! Like eating a bowl of Fall!

And so good for you too!


Don’t you want to just dive right in? I hope for your sake you find the time to make this yummy concoction in the very near future!

Ok, my friends, no promises, but I think that’s it on the squash front for now. Pick up a copy of Where Cooking Begins and cook up something new this weekend. We will be doing some catch up—need to get those Halloween decorations up and maybe take a little drive to enjoy all the fall foliage. Have a great one and I’ll see you next week with more!


Where Cooking Begins’ Grains and Roasted Squash with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing-Famous Fridays

Makes 6 servings

Prep Time for Farro: 20 minutes (plus soaking overnight) Prep Time for Squash: 30-40 minutes; Prep Time for dressing: 5 minutes


  • 1 cup farro

  • Water

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

  • 1 large butternut squash

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Black pepper

  • ½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • Pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 lemon, cut in half

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs

The Recipe

1. Place the farro in a large pot and cover with cold water. Let sit overnight. Drain and rinse in a colander. Return the farro to the pot and cover with 4 quarts of water. Add the 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until al dente. Drain in the colander and spread out onto a baking sheet or plate to cool. (If you can’t soak the farro overnight, it’s ok—just cook it another 10 minutes or so.)

2. While farro is cooking, preheat oven to 450ºF. Peel and halve the squash crosswise at the spot where the neck and bulb meet. Cut the neck into ¾-inch rounds. Halve the bulb end, scoop out the seeds and cut into 1-inch moons. Place all of the squash on one or two rimmed baking sheets, season with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat and spread the squash out into an even layer on the sheet. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, turning at the halfway mark, until the squash is lightly browned and beginning to caramelize.

3. While the squash is cooking, make the dressing. Place the yogurt and buttermilk in a small bowl and then season with a bit more salt and pepper. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and mix together. Taste and add more salt if needed and the juice from one half of the lemon. Mix together—if it seems too thick to be dressing (this might happen if you use Greek yogurt) add a bit of water to loosen it.

4. Toss the slightly cooled farro with half of the dressing and place onto a serving platter. Top with the cooked squash and drizzle more of the dressing over it. In a small bowl, toss the parsley with the juice of the remaining lemon. Taste and season with salt and scatter the parsley over the top of the squash. Serve immediately.

5. This is best on the day you make it but we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch a lot the next day. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Note: Recipe adapted from Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music. I subbed in farro for the wheat berries, used red pepper flakes for the crushed Calabrian chiles in oil and subbed in parsley for the fennel.

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