There is a Season with Molly Parr: An improvised warm winter squash salad

  • Roasted winter squash with goat cheese ricotta cream and farro, based on a recipe from Janneke Philippi’s “SALAD: 100 Recipes for Simple Salads & Dressings.” PHOTO BY MOLLY PARR

For the Gazette
Published: 1/20/2023 3:43:15 PM

I’ve been on a bit of a salad binge lately. This is not a New Year’s resolution, mind you – past pandemic resolutions have included eating more burritos (mildly successful), and eating things that really hit the spot (wonderfully successful). This year I’m actually hoping to listen to more live music, if I’m being honest.

But back to salad. There is nothing intrinsically healthy about my salads. Sometimes they have a bed of greens. Sometimes. I love playing salad bar at lunch, and adding bibs and bobs of things from the refrigerator to one of my larger ceramic pottery bowls I threw way back before the children, who break ceramic bowls, even existed.

I might add a spoonful of a weekend leftover, like vegan Thai rice noodles with Brussels sprouts and clementines. Perhaps next to it there will be a scoop of pickled beets. I’ve embraced store-bought croutons and explored bottled dressings, and then I’ll top everything with some sunflower seeds and dried fruit.

Those work-from-home lunch salads have been so energizing, but for dinner I like to start from a recipe, like this one from Janneke Philippi’s “SALAD: 100 Recipes for Simple Salads & Dressings.” I say “start from” because I’ve made some tweaks to the original. First, the recipe calls for “pumpkin,” which I’ve translated liberally from the original Dutch to mean “any winter squash I have on hand.” I’ve made this twice in the past two weeks, first with an acorn squash and then with a delicata. Both were fantastic.

Philippi also calls for the goat cheese/ricotta cream to fill a quarter of the squash, but I’ve enjoyed it spread on a plate and layering the other ingredients on top. I tend to have farro in my home more regularly than spelt, so I’ve changed that, and made the greens more flexible. And no worries if you don’t have parsley.

And if there are any leftovers, they’ll go right into my next lunch-time improv salad.

Roasted Winter Squash with Goat Cheese Ricotta Cream and Farro


1 winter squash, halved, seeded and sliced into half inch slices

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon of kosher salt or coarse sea salt

150g (5.5 oz) farro (or spelt)

5 sundried tomatoes in oil

2 teaspoons capers

4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

3 tablespoons arugula/baby spinach/baby kale

100 g (3.5oz) ricotta

1 teaspoon honey

100 g (3.5 oz) soft goat’s cheese


baking tray

rubber spatula

serving platter


Preheat the oven to 430F. Place the de-seeded and sliced squash on a baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.

While the squash is roasting, cook your grain according to directions on the box.

Finely chop the tomatoes, capers, parsley and greens and stir through the cooked grain.

Mash the ricotta, honey and goat cheese together with a fork.

Stir 3 tablespoons of the tomato oil into the grain mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the roasted squash out of the oven. You can serve the squash straight away or let it cool down to room temperature first.

Using a rubber spatula, spread the ricotta cream mixture evenly on your serving platter. Place the slices of roasted squash on the latter and scoop the grain salad on top.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to


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