Collard Butternut Panzanella with Lentils & Seeds

Each year of farming, our recovery period seems to take a little bit longer than the last, and by that I mean that after each growing season it seems to be taking longer and longer to put ourselves back together again.  It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a wonderful thing.

Each year we give the farm more and more of ourselves, knowing what we are capable of pushing out of our fields and out of our bodies in an all too brief eight-month window. We don’t hold back. We lay it all out there. And finally, after seven years of farming, we also allow ourselves to experience the summer joys we missed in the early years of building this business. Bike rides, canoe outings, parties, weekend adventures– we work to fit it all in alongside our crazy farm life.

I cherish it all. I adore the way we have always run towards our dreams. But as you can imagine, it can also be totally exhausting going that hard for eight months’ straight. It’s a marathon. And in my opinion, every marathon runner deserves their own set of recovery rituals before gearing up for the next race.

This year my Carrot and I created a new recovery ritual; we made a pact with one another to turn off all discussion of the farm until we both felt genuinely enthusiastic to hold those conversations again. It wasn’t a pact to stop working or researching or caring about our farm, but it was a commitment we made to each other to put a hard pause on any decision making. Neither of us ever want to make a strategic business decision from a place of exhaustion or burn out. We want to wait to have those conversations until we have clear minds and some open space to deeply dive in.

And this year, as it happens, we weren’t ready to have those conversations until the second week of January.

My Carrot and I finally sat down to have a farm meeting on January 8th. It lasted seven hours. We had to connect and make plans for essentially every aspect of our business– CSA expansion and product adjustments, add-on share commitments we wanted to continue (or expand), field plans, seed orders, employment needs, annual sales goals, annual expenses, what investments we should/could make this year, and how to move our forty pounds of beautifully trimmed certified organic hemp forward towards a sale at a good price.

For a moment it felt overwhelming to see the sheer volume of work we had to set into motion in four short weeks (before our 15-day vacation to Europe!) but we it didn’t take long to notice how the space we’d given ourselves to rest and explore numerous scenarios and ideas on our own over the past three months made coming to decisions relatively effortless. We made plans quickly and dove into our separate work easily.

Plus, our marriage got a rest from non-stop farm talk. We had weeks on end where other dreams and feelings were the main priority. There was still farm work to be done, but it didn’t feel like the whole world revolved around it.

I think this might be what a mature business feels like. It’s still crazy and manic at times. There are still many moments in the middle of the season when it feels like the amount we have to maintain and manage just isn’t humanly possible. But then there’s this. A pause. A break. Another frenzied season leading up to a real release and time of rest.

I can’t wait to share all the changes that lie ahead in 2020 with you. But for now, let’s eat.

-Leek

COLLARD BUTTERNUT PANZANELLA WITH LENTILS & SEEDS
I’ve made this lovely panzanella a couple different ways and I honestly am not sure I have a favorite preparation so I included a couple different pictures to inspire you to experiment. For the greens, I’ve used both collards and kale. For the bread, I’ve used a white sourdough and a heartier rye sourdough. For the nuts, I used sesame seeds both times but experimented with both sunflower seeds and pepitas. I’m sure whichever nuts or seeds you have on hand will work great. And if you don’t feel like making lentils just for this recipe (I’ve usually got a container of cooked lentils in my fridge from batch cooking on Sunday), feel free to use a can of chickpeas. Just be sure to drain and rinse them before roasting.

Takes 45 minutes
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

7 tablespoons hazelnut oil (olive oil is also fine), divided
3 cups cubed, dried sourdough bread (crusts removed if possible)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup black or beluga lentils, cooked (one 15-ounce can drained chickpeas also works in a pinch)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (or pepitas)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 bunch collards (or kale), ribs removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried currants (or cranberries)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while you cut up your bread and butternut.
  2. Drizzle 1/4 cup oil on large baking sheet. Add bread cubes, butternut squash, and lentils. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Use a spatula to coat everything gently in the oil and spices. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss everything again gently and then sprinkle with sunflower and sesame seeds. Roast 10 minutes longer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil with maple syrup and vinegar. Add a hefty pinch of salt and several twists of black pepper. Whisk to combine.
  4. Toss roasted butternut mixture with collards to wilt slightly. Add currants and dressing right before serving.

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