Okay, friends. It’s time to accept defeat, the chill of fall is upon us. It begs to be recognized when I wake up in the morning and want to snuggle back into the warmth of the blankets. Or when I’m sitting on my computer by the open windows (because I still refuse to close them) and have to wear a sweater and sip hot tea to keep warm. I spent the last long weekend of summer hiking and playing in and around Bend for one last chance to soak up the last bits of summer sunshine, and by the time I got home the clouds and rain had already settled into Portland. So naturally, I quickly dashed to the store, picked up the ingredients that were calling out to me, and headed into the kitchen to create the taste of fall that would make me happier about the changing season. And that, my friends, is how this Vegan Delicata Squash Farro Bake came to be. Showcasing my favorite fall flavor, the delicata squash, my new favorite grain to experiment with, farro, and my favorite spices, cumin, cardamom, and turmeric.
I’ve done a little research recently into why it is that I’m so resistant to the transition from summer to fall, and have come across some explanations described through the philosophies and practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which seem to sum up my exact struggles quite eloquently. According to TCM, the season of autumn is associated with the element of Metal, which governs organization, order, communication, the mind, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. It is in this season that we move from the external, expansive nature of summer to the internal, contractive nature of autumn – cultivating body and mind and becoming more introspective. I found the following quote on this TCM acupuncture website, which spoke to my struggles quite well:
“During the summer, which is ruled by the Fire element, we deal more with the external – traveling and playing outdoors. Fall, on the other hand, is a time of organizing your life for the winter season ahead and coming more inside your body and mind to reflect on your life.
The lung and large intestine are the internal organs related to Fall and the Metal element. Lung is associated with the emotion of “letting go.” This process is difficult for those who love the summer. They find it hard to give up the long days of sunlight, warm temperatures, and open windows.”
Along with “letting go”, grief and sadness are the emotions of the lung. From an emotional standpoint, this means autumn is the season for becoming introspective and concentrating on resolving or coming to terms with underlying emotional imbalances and letting go of that which no longer serves us. This allows us to make new space within us for bringing positive energy and emotion into our lives. Given that I’m already a very sensitive, introspective person, it makes complete sense to me that this deeply transitional season would affect me so strongly. I truly value the beauty and grace of each changing season, but cannot disguise my absolute adoration for the summertime. Longer, warmer days, traveling and playing outside, an abundance of sweet flowers and of fresh fruit and vegetables, a carefree and playful nature; all of these characteristics tend to harmonize naturally with my personality, and the transition into fall brings me back within myself to reflect on those things that I had less time to reflect on during the summer months. To me, this can prove to be a little overwhelming, which leads to an overall feeling of melancholy that I just can’t shake.
I’m hoping that by recognizing and tending to these realizations, I can find ways to better cope with the transition. According to TCM, some ways to combat the negative effects of the changing season are to get outside in nature (even in the rain), breathe deeply, let go of any negativity or that which no longer serves a purpose, organize and de-clutter (both physically and emotionally), and adapt the diet to incorporate more cooked foods, heartier ingredients, and herbs/spices that warm and nourish the body.
Insert this Vegan Delicata Squash Farro Bake recipe! Getting into the kitchen and letting my creativity go wild is the best way for me to adapt to the changing season and (try to) get excited for the cooler, crisp months ahead. Besides spending all of my time cooking and getting back into the routine of school, my goal is also to stay on the hiking trails as often as possible, despite the soggy weather that I know is on its way (shoutout to my NUNM friends out there – hold me accountable on this one!). It’s a matter of changing my mindset and getting myself out the door, because once I’m in nature I’m always happy no matter what the weather is doing around me.
This recipe was the perfect way to kick off the cooler weather, and to use the adorable yellow ceramic bakeware given to me by a dear girlfriend of mine as a birthday gift (lookin’ at you, Vanessa!). Try it out as a hearty main dish for dinner, or bring it as a shareable side for a fall potluck. Your friends and family will love you!
- 1/2 cup farro
- 1 1/2 cup water
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 medium delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 tsp avocado or olive oil
- Seasonings, to taste (I used sea salt, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and red pepper flakes)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other nut milk)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp oat flour
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 5-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
- Rinse farro in warm water, then add to a medium pot with water and pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat
- Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender
- Drain any excess water that remains
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Slice delicata squash and add to a large baking sheet, tossing with oil to coat
- Lay squash slices out in a single layer on the tray and sprinkle with seasonings
- Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until mostly tender (do not over-bake, they will continue to get tender once transferred to the bakeware)
- While farro and squash are cooking, mix all sauce ingredients together in a blender, or whisk by hand in a measuring cup
- Once farro and delicata squash are finished cooking, add them both into a baking dish with the other chopped veggies and nutritional yeast sauce, stirring everything together to incorporate
- Cover with bakeware lid, or if using a non-lidded baking dish cover with foil
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until everything is tender and sauce is bubbling
- Remove from oven and serve immediately, with extra nutritional yeast or a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts on top
- Farro is a wheat grain very similar in taste and texture to wheat berries. If you have trouble finding farro in your local grocery store or simply want to use a grain you already have on-hand, you can sub in any grain of choice - wheat berries, quinoa, rice, bulgar, etc.