Farro: a love letter to my vegetarian friends.

Farro with broccolini and mushrooms

Every once in a while, I’ll throw together a dish using only ingredients I find in the pantry and fridge.  And every once in a while, I hit a home run good enough that Kenny requests the dish time and again. I did it with my “Tilapia a la Jenny,” and not too long ago, I did it with farro. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this ancient Roman grain, allow me to introduce you, because farro is making a comeback in a major way. High in fiber and protein, its slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture make it a favorite amongst vegetarians and carnivores alike. Best of all, its super cost-effective nature, meaning a little goes a long way, makes it ideal for feeding a crowd.

Even though my “crowd” consisted of just the two of us, that bag of “10-minute” farro was calling my name from it’s hiding spot tucked away in the black hole known as my pantry. It was one of those nights that I came home from work exhausted, and hadn’t had time to run to the market. So, I did what I do best, and I foraged throughout my kitchen, pulling an onion from the basket on the counter, that pint of meaty crimini mushrooms that had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, and that bunch of broccolini I’d been meaning to use. Since I had never tasted farro before, I was a little apprehensive about its flavor, but then I remembered a rule of thumb my mom taught me ages ago. Whenever I cook grains whose directions suggest cooking them in water, I always add a boost of flavor by swapping the water with a corresponding stock. Often times, I use chicken stock, just because I always have it on hand, but vegetable or beef stocks are interchangeable in this particular recipe.

Once I got the farro going in the stock, I made quick work chopping and sauteing the onions and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil. I added the broccolini at the very end, because I didn’t want it to lose all of its crunch. As soon as the farro was done cooking, I mixed in the vegetables, and topped it all with a nice snow of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

As Kenny and I sat down for dinner, I was a little nervous to serve this to Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes, but my worries quickly subsided when I caught him serving himself a second helping. Lucky for me, he left enough leftovers for me to indulge with breakfast the next day. And oh, was I ever thankful. Topping this dish with a poached egg and watching the runny yolk drip over the farro might just be my new favorite way to start the day.

This is how we do breakfast in my house.

This is how we do breakfast in my house.

 

Farro with Onions, Mushrooms, and Broccolini
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Consider this dish a love letter to vegetarians (but know that carnivores will love it, too).
Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro
  • chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 pint crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 bundle broccolini, coursely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook farro according to package instructions, swapping the stock for the water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, and cook until the onions are transluscent.
  3. Add broccolini, and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Season vegetables with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and add the cooked farro. Mix well, and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve immediately.

 

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Summer Harvest Salad

Summer Harvest Salad

One of the things I miss most about my time spent living in the Midwest is the changing of the seasons. Don’t get my wrong. I understand that living in Southern California, I am certainly spoiled by the weather, but with the two options being hot and hotter, I sometimes reminisce about a cool fall breeze, or a refreshing spring shower (I don’t get too carried away about missing Chicago winters, however).

Fortunately for me, we’ve been experiencing a particularly unusual summer, and have had several days of rain. If I could hand-pick any sort of rain from the sky, it would undoubtedly be a warm summer rain. I can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve had them here in the So.Cal., but I love them just the same. To me, they act as a gentle reminder to appreciate the amazing weather we have every other day of the year. But more importantly, just as April showers bring May flowers, summer rains promise even more than the average colorful and delicious bounty of crops.

My latest venture to the local farmer’s market left me overwhelmed by the season’s harvest of crimson-colored berries, stone fruit in every hue of the rainbow, and the  techni-color array of vegetables available. And after tasting my new favorite herb, the sour-lemon-like sorrel greens at the beloved Saly Cortile Cucina a few weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bundle of such greens for the picking at my favorite stand. Traditionally, sorrel is a spring green, but with Southern California’s climate the way it is, it was a welcome find on this hot summer day. Needless to say, I left the market with my arms full of produce and the wheels in my head turning.

When I got home, I knew exactly what I’d serve alongside my grilled chicken that night. Making quick work of the strawberries and plums, I arranged them atop a generous pile of peppery arugula and the tart sorrel greens. I then whipped up a quick balsamic vinaigrette, and called it a day. Kenny gave me his stamp of approval when he went for seconds of this Summer Harvest Salad a la Jenny, and I made variations for days, only stopping when I ran out of ingredients. I can’t wait to see what else they have for my salad fixings next week!

I’ve included the basic recipe for you, but know that it is very easily adaptable. Want to make this a main dish? Add goat cheese or slivered almonds for some protein. Don’t have plums? How about fresh peaches, instead? Use your imagination, and get inspired by what you find in your garden or local farmer’s market.

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Summer Harvest Salad
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Total time:
 
This light, fresh salad takes the best of Summer's bounty, and combines it into one dish.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups sorrel greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh berries (I used strawberries, but blueberries would be nice here, too)
  • 1 cup fresh stone fruit, sliced (I used plums, but apricots or peaches would work)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the arugula with the sorrel greens, and toss to combine.
  2. Add the berries and stone fruit.
  3. In a separate small bowl, make your vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, and serve.

 

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