The weather’s changed this week. The fog is coming with a little drizzle and the sun is sitting lower in the sky; we don’t have many autumn leaves or crisp days here in Northern California but still, it feels like fall. And so, rummaging around — in the kitchen for ingredients and online for inspiration — I pulled together this hearty autumn salad. Unlike the original, I didn’t use farro nor wild mushrooms, but I’m guessing most everyday pantries don’t stock those either. So here’s my version, which is great on its own, would be lovely on a bed of shredded raw kale or sauteed spinach, or make a nice side dish to your roast. I eyeballed the ingredients, and of course you can adjust the proportions up or down according to your taste, but here are some ballpark measurements to get you started:
2-3 cups cooked wild or brown rice, farro, Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain mix, or some combination thereof
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 lb mushrooms (button, crimini, shitake: whatever you’ve got)
1/4 lb seedless grapes
1/4 t smoked paprika
olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400.
While the oven is heating, wash the mushrooms and grapes. Halve the grapes (I know, you probably thought you were done slicing grapes when your child outgrew her highchair, but do it for this recipe: more surface area = more deliciously caramelized fruit. Plus, they won’t skate away from your fork when you try to take a bite). Chop or tear the mushrooms into large bites. Toss them onto a large roasting sheet with the grapes and walnuts, give them a good dose of olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt, some freshly ground pepper, and the smoked paprika. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the grapes are shriveled and the mushrooms and walnuts are nicely toasted (15-20 minutes). Toss with the cooked grains, return to the oven for a few minutes to warm it all, and serve.