Tag Archives: Farro

Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad

On blue oval platterAs parents, I believe one of our most important jobs is to create memories for our children. Certain aromas or sounds can instantly evoke specific memories or feelings. It only takes a shake of Ajax cleansing powder and a squirt of Joy dishwashing liquid to transport me right back to the kitchen of my childhood. The combo of Ajax and Joy was my mom’s special recipe for disinfecting the sink after dinner each night. The scent was sinus clearing and most certainly  responsible for the loss of a few brain cells. But we had the shiniest sinks in the neighbourhood.

If you were to ask my children, undoubtedly, they would tell you that the annoying whir of my cobalt blue Braun immersion blender was the soundtrack to their childhood. Each morning, they were roused from a deep sleep to the sound of their mom frothing milk for her morning latte. (This was before Nespresso machines with milk frother attachments) No need for alarm clocks in our house.

I hope that I have created other memories for my children, that were perhaps a bit more pleasant.3 platesLast weekend was the start of cottage season and we had a full house. My youngest son was there as well as my daughter and 3 of her friends. A few days earlier the girls had decided that they wanted to eat healthy for the weekend, so I was instructed to please not bake anything tempting. I made this salad for our lunch on Friday. It was met with rave reviews. It’s not really a grain salad, as the farro only plays a supporting role. The real star of this salad are the fat spears of sweet asparagus, charred to perfection on the outside but still maintaining a bit of crunch in the center.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Melissa Clark, over at www.cooking.nytimes.com. She roasted the asparagus in the oven, but I wanted to officially start grilling season. I like fat spears of asparagus and I peel the bottom third of each spear because that’s how I was taught to do it at my very first restaurant job.peeling asparagusready for grillinggrillingThe dressing for the salad packs a flavour punch. Lime juice, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil are whisked together and mixed with the cooked farro. This is a great make ahead salad as the farro can sit in the dressing for several hours. The asparagus and green onion can sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Lime Soy DressingI decided on a bed of peppery arugula and bitter radicchio. Toss the farro with the salad greens and top with the grilled vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin shards of Parmesan cheese over the top of this salad. close up

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad.

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Autumn Grain Bowl

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Leaf peepers everywhere are bummed out that the fall foliage was delayed this year. I’m still walking around without socks, which makes me very happy, because I hate socks. (But I do love a great pair of black tights. They smooth everything out and make me feel so sleek.)

While I have yet to pull out my heavy sweaters, I know that fall is officially here because the pumpkin spice haters are out in full force and my Trader Joe’s annual pumpkin spice flyer arrived in the mail.

I’m going to pass on pumpkin spice and ease my way into fall with an autumn grain bowl. grain-bowls-for-4
While everyone is roasting their broccoli and brussels sprouts, I’m bucking the trend and going raw. I love raw broccoli when the florets are chopped into tiny pieces and the stems are stripped of their woody bark, and the tender core is thinly sliced.  chopping-broccoliusing-mandoline-for-broccoli-stemsShredded brussels sprouts, pickled red onions, cucumbers, radishes and mint round out the crunch party.veggies-all-choppedThe dressing for this grain bowl packs an umami punch, thanks to anchovy paste!derssing-ingredientsI like to dress the vegetables at least 30 minutes before eating to give the salad a chance to marinate and soften up a bit. My grain of choice is farro, but it would be delicious with brown rice, barley, wheat berries or quinoa, if you must! I served the farro on the side and let everyone fill their own bowl. A shaving of Parmesan to top the bowl is an excellent idea.ready-for-dressing

Click here to print recipe for Autumn-Grain-Bowl.

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Grain Bowls

in a black bowl 2Happy Victoria Day to all my Canadian friends! Hope this long holiday weekend has left you feeling more relaxed and a pound or two heavier than you were last week! Even though it’s technically still spring, I think of the Victoria Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer. Here in Ontario, the weather co-operated and we had glorious heat and sunshine. We deserve it!!

We came up to the cottage and all three of our kids descended upon us for a visit. Nothing makes me happier than having us all sleeping under the same roof again. My oldest son brought his girlfriend and my daughter brought three friends, so it was a full house.

I had lots of help in the kitchen. My daughter and her friends planned and cooked dinner on Saturday night. We had a Mexican Fiesta complete with frozen lime margaritas. On the menu were fish tacos with slaw, sweet potato and black bean salad, mango salsa, grilled pineapple salsa and guacamole. It was all very delicious and I just sat and sipped my cocktail while they cooked.

For lunch on Saturday, I served grain bowls. These are perfect to serve for lunch for a large group of people. Everything can be prepared in advance and set out on a buffet. Everyone helps themselves and takes only what they like. Vegans, vegetarians and carnivores are all satisfied. ready to assembleI have provided a recipe but really, just use whatever is fresh and looks good. Just make sure you have a variety of colours and textures. I roasted some chickpeas with cumin and hot smoked paprika for a bit of heat. Sautéed corn and cherry tomatoes provided a bit of sweetness. Raw broccoli and shaved Brussels sprouts added crunch, while radishes added a perfect bitter note. Creamy avocado is always welcome at this party. Toasted nuts or seeds would also be a great addition. The dressing is a fresh and light combo of mint, parsley, lemon juice, honey and olive oil.

For grains, I used brown rice and farro. I have never had much luck cooking brown rice before. It always came out gummy. I recently tried Uncle Ben’s brown rice and it cooked up perfectly. The grains stayed separate and had a beautiful chewy texture. After cooking your grains, spread them out on a baking sheet to allow them to cool. That way, they won’t clump up and get gummy. Feel free to use barley, wheat berries, kasha, and ok, you can use quinoa if you must!

Store any leftovers in little containers, to keep all the ingredients separate and make a breakfast bowl in the morning, topped with a fried egg!

Click here to print recipe for Grain Bowls.

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Farro Salad with Pomegranate, Pistachio and Ricotta Salata

ready to eat 2When I was little, pomegranates were considered an exotic and a very rare treat. They usually appeared around mid-September, and my mom would make us get naked and go outside in the backyard to eat them. She was a bit of a neat freak in those days, and pomegranate stains are a bitch to get out. I have fond memories of those backyard orgies with my sisters.

I was in Israel the first time I ever laid eyes on a pomegranate tree. Laden with heavy red globes, about to burst with ripeness, I thought it was the most beautiful plant I had ever seen. According to Jewish folklore, the pomegranate has 613 seeds, which corresponds to the 613 mitzvot (good deeds) of the Torah (Jewish written law). While it makes for a good story, scientists suggest that the actual number of seeds in a pomegranate is most likely dependant upon the degree of pollination.

Now that I’m all grown up and don’t have to get  naked to seed pomegranates anymore, I find myself sneaking them into all sorts of dishes. I love them in Pomegranate Chicken, Pomegranate Tomato Salad, and Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Carrots.

Their jewel-like seeds add crunch and a sweet-sour tang to a Farro Salad. A tart vinaigrette and boldly flavored mix-ins of pistachios and ricotta salata cheese are a perfect complement to the nutty farro.what you'll needCook the farro in a combo of water and vegetable or chicken stock. A bay leaf, garlic clove and a few parsley stems help infuse the farro with more flavour. stock makes it more flavourfulFresh squeezed lemon juice creates a bracing vinaigrette. Shallots add gentle onion flavour and mildly bitter Italian parsley adds brightness and balance.reaming lemondicing shallotsItalian parsleyready to assembleThis salad keeps well for several days in the fridge. Any leftovers make a very satisfying breakfast the next day.

Click here to print recipe for Farro Salad with Pomegranate, Pistachios and Ricotta Salata.

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Summer Farro Risotto with Corn

single bowl with fork and napkin 625 sqThis is pure summer in a bowl. More accurately, it’s a love letter to corn. If all you’re looking for is a little fling with some boiled corn, slathered with butter and a dash of coarse salt, then this is not the dish for you. This is for someone who is in it for the long haul, willing to make a true commitment to corn.three bowlsEssentially this is a corn risotto, made with farro instead of rice. The simmering liquid is a corn puree which adds the sweetest pure corn flavour imaginable. For crunch, corn kernels, red onion and bell peppers are briefly cooked and then added. The ripest local tomatoes are added for a fresh hit of acidity and verdant basil adds a welcome fragrant note. Some grated parmesan adds richness and salt.

As with any long term relationship, there is some work involved here, and it will get a little bit messy. No getting around it. Chop, dice, sauté, puree, and stir. It’s worth the effort, I promise. ready to cookStart with some of the freshest corn you can find. Cut it off the cob and sauté with some olive oil and finely diced onion.sauteeing cornAdd vegetable stock to the cooked corn and onion and let it simmer until very soft. Then the whole lot gets blended and strained for a velvety corn puree. adding veg stockstraining corn pureeOnce the farro is simmered in vegetable stock and drained, it’s time to roll. And yes, you will need to dirty two more pans. I warned you, corn love is messy.farratto mise en placeTime to introduce the intense corn puree to the farro. Let it all simmer away until hot and creamy.adding corn puree to farro

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Click here to print recipe for Farro Risotto with Corn.

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