My mom and I haven’t quite finalized our Thanksgiving plans this year, but we know it’ll be relaxed, intimate, and it likely won’t involve any cooking. Usually I’d be sort of sad not to be taking charge of some holiday meal prep, but I’ve had enough on my plate this month that it’ll be nice to have a quiet celebration.
I’ve also come to realize that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be celebrated on the day of: all of November can be an excuse to go wild with festive vegan entrées and fixings and sides. I’m not attempting anything super ambitious this month, but I am playing around with a few Thanksgiving-themed dishes. This earthy plate of farro & roasted vegetables with Italian salsa verde is just right: flavorful enough to be welcome at any holiday table, but really low-key and easy to make.
The inspiration for this recipe started with my friend Alison Cayne’s cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, which is full of intuitive, user-friendly guidance for aspiring and experienced home cooks alike. Alison has a recipe for vegetables and farro with tahini sauce, which is a perfect potluck dish for cooler weather. I was inspired by the combination, but I kept the farro plain (hers is cooked with white wine, sort of like the start of a risotto), and I decided to brighten the plate with something green and herbaceous.
The book is also full of sauce recipes, which provided me with ample inspiration. I was thinking about a pesto, but I decided to go with something a little more wintery instead: a vegan Italian salsa verde.
Salsa verde can take a lot of different forms, but the Italian version, I’ve learned, is usually made with parsley, capers, and anchovies. I veganized mine by substituting some nutritional yeast for the anchovies, to provide umami. It’s not a perfect swap, but it works, and it makes the salsa verde ever-so-slightly pesto-ish.
You’ll need to wait a bit for your vegetables to roast, but otherwise, this all comes together in a snap. I typically use pearled farro, because it’s ready in about 20-25 minutes; if you’re using hulled, it’ll take closer to 35-40, depending on the brand. Play around with different autumnal vegetables, featuring yours or your family’s favorites!
- 1 cup farro pearled or hulled
- 6 cups raw autumn vegetables of choice cut into 1-inch pieces (I used a combination of fennel, carrots, red onion, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and delicata squash)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and black pepper
For the Italian Salsa Verde:
- 1 1/2 cups tightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon course salt
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
- Preheat your oven to 425F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Toss your vegetables with the olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on the sheets. Sprinkle with salt and a few turns of black pepper. Roast the vegetables for 25-35 minutes, or until tender and browning (the time may vary based on what type and proportion of veggies you use).
- While the vegetables roast, cook the farro according to package instructions.
- To make the salsa verde, place the parsley, garlic, salt, red pepper, and capers in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to break down the ingredients, then keep the motor running while you pour in the oil in a thin stream. Pulse in the nutritional yeast and vinegar, taste the salsa, and then adjust the seasonings as you like.
- When the vegetables are ready, fold them together with the farro and about 1/4-1/3 cup of the salsa verde, reserving the rest of it for drizzling at the table. Serve.
I’m pretty sure that my holiday recipes for the blog are getting simpler by the year (last year’s stuffing was my most streamlined yet), which is either a sign of my getting older or my becoming a little more comfortable as a cook (and uninterested in fussy or showy holiday food). I still enjoy challenging myself with a showstopper dish now and then, but for now, I’m looking forward to a holiday season full of simple, good things in my home.
More of them soon. For now, happy almost-weekend, and see you for weekend reading!