Tag Archives: Farro

Brassica Grain Bowl

While this is ostensibly a post about a Brassica Grain Bowl, what I really want to tell you about is a new habit I have adopted. If you are a friend of my daughter, you know not to call her on a Sunday afternoon. That’s when she does her weekly meal prep. She chops, roasts and steams various vegetables and grains and fills her fridge with the component parts she will need for healthy meals all week long. That way, when she gets home from work, she is less likely to call a glass of wine and a bag of chips dinner, as her mother has been known to occasionally do, 
At some point, many children’s intelligence surpasses their parents and they start teaching us. I have decided to take a page out of my daughter’s book and start doing some weekly meal prep, so that my occasional solitary meals will be a bit healthier.

At the beginning of the week I fill a big zip-loc bag with chopped raw vegetables. My blend includes raw broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and sugar snap peas.
Shredding Brussels sprouts is admittedly a fiddly task. Do it by hand to work on your knife skills or go ahead an bust out the Cuisinart.

All this chopping takes time. I binge-watch something addictive on Netflix. This month I’m watching Offspring. Shot in Australia, I have become smitten with the protagonist, Dr. Nina Proudman, a slightly neurotic and very funny OBGYN. She is a rockstar in the operating room, but not so skilled in her lovelife. The series showcases her two siblings and parents. While I would not call them dysfunctional, they are decidedly eccentric and unconventional. Good luck watching just one episode! Completely addictive.

This raw veggie mix makes a great base for a grain bowl, an excellent slaw to accompany roast chicken, a delicious stuffer for Tuesday fish tacos, and a perfect foundation for some shredded chicken for lunch. You can sauté it in butter or olive oil and garlic and serve it as a side dish.

After I chop the vegetables, I cook up one or two kinds of grains or some brown rice. I love farro, barley and I’ve really been into wheat berries lately. I adore their chewy texture and nutty flavour. If you like quinoa, go ahead and cook up a batch of that. I won’t judge you.

I like to keep a jar or two of homemade dressing in the fridge so that a salad can come together quickly. For this grain bowl I mixed up a herb-lemon vinaigrette.

I also roasted some butternut squash. Sweet potatoes would also be delicious. Chop it small so it roasts quickly.The last component of my meal prep is a batch of pickled vegetables. Carrots, cucumber and shallots are a nice mix. They last for a while in the fridge and are excellent on tacos and sandwiches.You can top your grain bowl with whatever protein you like. Grilled chicken, skirt steak, salmon, tofu, chickpeas, cheese and eggs are all great options. Avocado is always a good idea and don’t forget the crunch on top. Seeds and nuts of all kind add welcome texture.

 

 

Tuscan White Bean and Farro Soup

3 bowls 2We’re not really a big game-playing family. The one and only time I ever played a board game with my husband was early on in our relationship. We were on the same team for a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit. The category was sports and leisure and it was a baseball question, the only sport I know anything about. I got so excited that I knew the answer, I shouted it out. Unfortunately, it was the other team’s question. My husband declared a moratorium on game playing with me after that.

But, on a visit to see us in December, my youngest son started a game of tag, and it’s still going on. Sadly, he was playing tag with a wicked cold. He caught it first, passed it on to my husband, and now I am “it”, sneezing and coughing my way through January. Normally, when I’m sick, I lose my appetite, so I sort of got excited about being sick at the beginning of January. I figured this would be the perfect way to lose my December cookie weight. But this cold left me feeling ravenous. I couldn’t seem to eat enough to make me feel satisfied. I was craving carbs.one bowl 45°Soup seemed like the perfect remedy. Hot enough to soothe my sore throat and packed with lots of starchy things to make me feel full. This is my take on the classic Tuscan soup, Minestra di Faro Lucchese. (Farro soup in the style of Lucca). I used Mark Bittman’s New York Times recipe as my starting point and adapted slightly from there. mise en place I added a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste to the sauteed onions and celery, to really deepen the flavour of this soup. I also slipped in a big pinch of red pepper flakes. While spicy heat is not a typical addition to the classic recipe, my tastebuds were so dulled by my cold that I wanted the soup to really pack a punch of flavour. Plus, spicy food makes my nose run, so I figured that the soup would work to cleanse my sinuses. The final adaptation I made was the addition of a rind of Parmesan cheese to the simmering soup. I always save my rinds and keep them in the freezer in a zip-loc bag to add to soups and stews. serving soupThis soup does not fall under the “fast food” category. You need to soak the beans the night before. You could use canned beans, but I think that the texture would not be the same. The original recipe called for adding the farro and beans at the same time. I found that the beans needed at least 90 minutes of simmering to get tender, so I added the farro during the last 30 minutes of cooking, so that it would still retain some chew, the way I like it. I also waited and added the carrots at the end of the cooking time, rather than at the beginning with the celery and onions, so that they would not be too mushy.

Serve with lots of chopped Italian parsley and fresh basil for a hit of verdant freshness. Don’t forget the Parmesan cheese.

Click here to print recipe for Tuscan White Bean and Farro Soup.

1 bowl on grey napkin

 

Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad with Farro

2 bowls with cheeseI have made this salad 5 times in the past month. Each time I’ve made it, it’s been slightly different. That’s the beauty of this salad. Although I am providing you with a recipe, think of it more as a guideline and go whatever vegetables look freshest at the market that day. Late September is a perfect time to make this salad. So much fresh local produce is still available.

Chop everything up very small. That way when you take a spoonful you’ll get a bite of everything. This is my favourite way to eat a salad. I kept most of the vegetables raw. The only thing I cooked was the yellow and green beans as I really dislike their taste and texture raw.

Use both the florets and the stems of broccoli. Chopped small, they are perfect for this salad.

 

Sugar snap peas add sweetness to the salad. Slice them thinly on the diagonal.sugar snaps sliced on the diagonalBrussels sprouts add a pleasant bitterness. Cut them in half and then thinly julienne them.shredding sproutsRadishes add crunch and a spicy bite.rasishesYellow and green beans get cut into bite sized pieces after briefly cooking.slicing beansThe last of summer’s corn adds sunny sweetness. Green onions add a sharp note.

To add some bulk to the salad, choose your grain of choice. I love the chewy texture of farro. It provides perfect textural contrast to all the crunch from the vegetables. Add some protein to make the salad a meal. Chicken or chickpeas or some cheese are all good options. I used ricotta salata. You’re in charge here. Make it your own.

The dressing comes together in the blender in seconds. Use about a half a cup of tender mixed herbs. I used a combo of mint, parsley, basil and dill. Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of pistachios and olive oil are added and given a blitz. one bowl with extra dressingMore pistachios for extra crunch are added after the salad is tossed.one bowl

Click here to print recipe for Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad with Farro.

3 bowls

 

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.

2 plates

Autumn Grain Bowl

two-bowls
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.

one-bowl