Late Summer Farro Salad

farro salad

I spent most of Sunday recovering from a too-fun Saturday involving yoga, sun, beer, wings, more beer, and then a lot of drinks.  This is a rough diagram of what Sunday looked like.  Location: The Bed.

cat bed diagram

It was rough in the most delicious way and I felt only a smidgen of guilt.

My crowning (and only) achievement of the day was a last minute scramble to make dinner from the remains of my CSA package, and might I say it turned out swimmingly.  Back pat, back pat.

eggplant and zucchini

This toothsome farro salad is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Farro and Roasted Red Pepper Salad.  Ottolenghi = swoon.  Farro = double swoon.  Combined together, they make a culinary trend implosion.  I feel like I should apologize, but really I’m doing a little dance shuffle and letting out a little squeal.

Seasonally, his delicious recipe is very cozy fall/early winter.  Please consider this my humble (and bumbling) attempt at the late summer harvest version.  The great thing about these grain salads is that they accommodate additions, subtractions or straight-up substitutions of other veggies you have laying around in your pantry.  Also, I opted for using the broiler in this version to cut down drastically on time, heat and steps.

The broiler is my new best friend.

cut zucchini cut eggplant farro

THE SALAD:

1 cup farro (I’ve been using the semi-pearled version, which takes about 15-20 minutes to cook)
1 medium eggplant (unpeeled, cut in large cubes about ¾”)
1 medium zucchini (unpeeled, cut in large cubes, about ¾”)
2 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 tomatoes, halved
¼ lb Capri goat cheese, or feta depending on your taste, crumbled
A large handful of parsley or dill, chopped roughtly

THE DRESSING:

Juice of 1 medium lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp smoked paprika, plus extra
½ garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp fine sea salt

Put the farro in a pot of boiling water and simmer until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Take all your eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and throw them into a sheet pan large enough to hold all the vegetables in one layer with a little bit of breathing room.  Drizzle the pan with a generous splash of olive oil and sea salt, and give the vegetables a good toss so they’re all evenly-ish coated.

vegetable army

Turn on your broiler and slide the pan in for 3 to 4 minutes.  The veggies should be browned (but not burned!), so keep an eye on them and don’t wander off anywhere.

Give them a good toss in the pan, and then it’s back under the broiler for another minute or two.  The eggplant and zucchini should be fork tender – if they aren’t, give them another toss and another minute under the broiler.

broiled vegetables

Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

Once the veggies have cooled off a bit, the garlic can get squeezed out of their skins. Together with the tomatoes, they get a rough chop.  This is a happy-go-lucky undisciplined sort of salad, so no need for right angles and perfect cubes.

salad components

The cooked farro, roasted veggies, crumbled cheese, chopped herbs and all the dressing go into a bowl, and get a good toss.  Season with a good salt and pepper if so desired.

*** I was not feeling ready for zingy cheese, so I went with the super fresh Westfield Farm Capri goat cheese and some parsley to brighten things up.  If you’re feeling the feta (and why should you not), I like pairing that with dill so there aren’t too many aggressive flavors at war in your mouth.

Eat.

farro salad closeup

farro salad_2

 

Looking for other awesome farro recipes?

I’m a big fan of these:

Bon Appetit’s Farro with Acorn Squash and Kale

Smitten Kitchen’s One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes

A Little Mujaddara

winter blues

Dear friends,

We’re in that part of winter where it feels like the cold has seeped deep into my bones and I won’t ever know what it feels like to be warm again.  I’ve learned the hard way that my bean boots don’t have the greatest traction on icy sidewalks.  My coat hood, so necessary for survival, cuts off all peripheral vision and a good percentage of my ability to hear…both important attributes when moving about our crowded, beloved city.  This is exactly the time you should start talking to me about the tropical island that you have just gone to / about to go to.  I would love that.

Isn’t it funny how quickly we adapt to the status quo?  I know in a few months, I’ll be trudging along the streets, with the smell of hot asphalt in the air and a river of sweat running down my back, wishing fervently to live in an igloo.  All I will want is a dark, cool place to retreat to.  I’ve only very recently started adapting to a new job that operates at a much more bureaucratic pace than I’ve been used to.  For the first two months, I was crawling out of my skin.  This past week, I started to understand how to let the troublesome things go by, like quips in a sitcom, and use the time that I have to learn things I want to know about and meet new people that I would have never otherwise met.

I’m worrying about being brave.   I’m worrying about losing time.

Onion Halved

I’m not stressed, but I’m not settled.  There’s a vibrating part of me that’s just wanting to pounce (on what I’m not sure), but just as ready to curl up in a ball in my bed with a whiskey and a cat, and never come out.  We’ll just call this the winter blues.  One amazing antidote?  Besides thisAnd thisAnd this?  A little mujaddara, a super simple dish of rice, lentils and fried onions that will make you feel like you’re being petted with a large, warm cashmere glove.

This earnest vegan combination comes from the Middle East, and has been circling the food blogging world for a while now.  Arabic for SMALLPOX (wiki says lentils look like pockmarks), this dish benefits from the best your pantry has to offer.  With so few ingredients, each one is key – a good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper will help elevate your mujaddara to mindblowing levels.  This recipe is adapted from Aarti Sequira’s version. I love the way she builds flavor by first blooming the spices and toasting the rice, as well as letting the ingredients cook together rather than mixing them together at the end as other recipes do.   Because I like my mujaddara to whisper, not shout, I’ve taken away some of the zingier spicing, and substituted white rice with fragrant brown basmati rice.

By the way, it’s moojahdahra.

Rice and Lentil FriendsSliced Onions

Ingredients

1 cup organic green lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns (I love the Tellicherry ones from Kalustyans.)
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup brown basmati rice
Greek yogurt, for garnish
Salt, as needed

First things first.  The lentils get put into a medium saucepan along with enough water to cover them by at least an inch.  Bring the pot up to a boil and then lower the heat to allow for the smallest of simmers.  The lentils should be tender and ready to go after 20 minutes.  Drain the lentils and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, we’ll be super efficient and take care of the onions.  Take a large saucepan, and put in the olive oil.  Let the oil warm up a little over medium heat and add in the peppercorns and cumin seeds.  Give the pan a little swirl.  After a minute, you start to smell the spices (which activate when you heat them!) and the cumin seeds should be a just little darker than when you started.

Onions in Seasoned Oil

Add the onions, along with a half teaspoon of salt.  This next step will depend on how much time you have.  The longer and slower you cook your onions, the more amazing they will be.  Think Funyuns vs. french onion soup.  No, I kid.  Things will be fine.  But slower will be finer.  We’re aiming for onions with a deep brown overall color and a little bit of crispiness along the edges.  This is the non-negotiable part of the assignment.

Now the choose-your-own-adventure part:  Over medium-high heat, carmelizing the onions will take about 20 minutes. Take the heat down to low-medium and we’re talking at least 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your pan.  Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan.

Softened Onions

Browned Onions

When the onions are done, remove about half of the onions with tongs or a slotted spoon and set them aside to use as garnish later on.  (Once, I forgot this step and almost went out to look for orphan children to separate the onions from the rice a la Argo.)

Mixing In Rice

Add the rice to the remaining onions in the pan over medium-high heat, stirring gently until some rice grains just start to brown. Add the cooked lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender. If there’s still too much water in the bottom, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes.  If the rice is still a little crunchy, pour in another 1/2 cup of water and recover for another 5 minutes.

Once the rice is done, turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.

Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, and a generous dollop of Greek yogurt on top.  I like to add a light sprinkle of a good sea salt and a squeeze of lemon as well, but you’ll figure out how you like your mujadarra after a bowl or two.  Or three.

Mujadarra Close Up

Lazy Sunday Chicken Stew

We took a jaunt up to Hudson, New York this past Saturday, the cutest little town up along (duh) the Hudson River.  After being lumps on the couch and in bed for hours after returning, it was time for a little one-pot sustenance.

Sunday Chicken Stew_3

I love whole chickens, they are the gifts that keep on giving during a busy week.  Roasted, they can take on a main course, be a welcome addition to a weekday salad, and be stashed away for stock when you’re feeling ambitious and leisurely.  Stewed, they become the ultimate comfort food, warming, soothing and a good dose of healthy luxury.

I have a few stew recipes that I’ve cycled through for the past few years, but lately, I’ve been honing in on my own personal combination of two of my favorite recipes – Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Dumplings and Dave Lieberman of Food Network’s Hearty Chicken Stew.  Miz Drummond’s version is adapted originally from the now-defunct Gourmet magazine, but always makes me feel a little guilty because 1. I am not one bit Southern / I don’t get dumplings and 2. there aren’t enough vegetables. The slightly unorthodox additions of apple cider, a little cream and turmeric however, win me over completely.  Dave Lieberman’s version is a great simple chicken soup (read broth with stuff) but doesn’t have enough heft to make it a stew.  It does however abstain from using a broth base (just water!) which I love and extracts a huge amount of flavor from a few very simple ingredients.

Vegetables Mise En Place

Carrot Cut

Behold a hybrid, plus a few extra jingles.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup flour (By the way, was just reading a fun little book called 52 Loaves.  Did you know that bleached flour is carcinogenic?? Fun.)
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (extra points for free range, organic, etc. you know the drill.)
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
6 cups water
1 handful of fresh thyme springs
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped roughly
Salt and pepper, as needed

Sprinkle chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper, then dredge lightly in the flour.

Chicken Cooking

Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat along with the olive oil. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.  Don’t crowd the pan when you are browning – crowding leads to steam and steam leads to grey…not that golden brown we’re looking for.  Once the chicken pieces are evenly browned, put them aside.

Browning Chicken

Into the same pot, add all the garlic, diced onion, carrots, and celery, along with a generous pinch of salt. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat.

Stirring Vegetables

Stir in the turmeric, which will give the soup a nice golden hue and a little somethin’ somethin’ in flavor.  Pour in the water and apple cider, then add the chicken pieces you’ve patiently browned.

Simmering Stew

Using kitchen twine, tie together the fresh thyme and bay leaf and throw into the mix, making sure it’s submerged beneath the surface.

Bouquet Garni

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Let the pot simmer for about an hour, discarding any scum to makes its way to the top.  Gross.  The chicken should come off the bone easily.  Depending on how finicky (or young) your eaters are, you can take out the chicken pieces, pull the meat of the bone and roughly chop before putting the meat back in the pot. OR just leave the pieces as is.  Your call.

Add the half and half and give it a good stir.  This will give the soup a little bit of mysterious silkiness.  Add salt if needed, and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.  Chicken stew and black pepper are like peas and rice.  Or Jenny and Forrest. Scotch and fireplaces.  Bread and butter.  Yum.

Sunday Chicken Stew_2

Aaaand…that is all.  Dish that shit up.

This stew is a decent amount of initial prep, but I promise you  that it will be worth the time and the wait.  However, if you decided you needed a shortcut or two, and used a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead, I wouldn’t judge you harshly.  If you do, add some flour in when you cook the vegetables and maybe use chicken broth instead to make up for some lost flavor oomph.

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