Is this a recipe? Probably not. What this is is taking stock of your pantry and fridge, and figuring what you have on hand to make a meal. Which is basically what happens chez nous, on the reg.
Mediterranean Farro Salad
1 cup quick-cooking farro
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2-3 bay leaves
big handful spinach or arugula (about 1/2 bag)
half dozen small mozzarella balls, sliced &/or quartered
small carton grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
fresh herbs: basil, parsley, etc.
olives, if you’re into that kind of thing
optional: dressing –
Whisk together 2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, a splash of lemon juice, mixed together
Bring apple cider, vinegar, bay leaves and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add farro, reduce heat, and cook according to directions, about 10-12 minutes (you may need to pour off a bit of excess liquid).
Meanwhile, cut up your mozzarella and tomatoes, herbs and avocado. Add to a large bowl and give it a toss with the arugula.
Pour the hot farro over the salad mixture and give it a thorough mix – you want the farro to wilt the arugula a little bit. Season with salt & pepper and serve with dressing, if you please.
This is worth sharing for one small reason: cooking the farro in the apple cider vinegar and the bay leaves gives it a tart, wonderful flavor that only gets better the longer the salad sits. If you make enough to last you into lunch the next day, you don’t need any dressing. How’s that for healthy!?.
Tuesdays are the perfect slowcooker day in our home. I work late on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so a slowcooker meal means that I can come home and have a warm meal waiting for me.
I have always been a little embarrassed that I use the slowcooker as much as I do, since it has the reputation of being somewhat low-brow. So, I felt vindicated when I saw this article in Food and Wine about a fancy modernist chef who uses his slow cooker religiously, even at his upscale restaurant. This recipe is from that article, and I just had to try it. It is chock-full of veggies, and veggies are the one food group that are definitely lacking in our toddler-focused, carb-and-cheese heavy diet.
The one problem is that this recipe has like 100 ingredients, and I have to admit here that I am horrible at following recipes. I always read recipes with such skepticism: Really? One cup of farro is enough? Let me add some more. Only 1 bell pepper? Let me throw in another. Whenever I make something that is somewhere between yuck and so-so, my husband looks at me dubiously and asks, “Did you follow the recipe on this one?” The answer is usually no.
So, I tried my best to stick to the original recipe, which you can find here. However, I did end up making some modifications, mostly to make this semi-intense recipe more manageable on a weeknight.
Vegetable Farro Stew with Figs and Pine Nuts
2 rosemary sprigs
5 oregano sprigs
5 thyme sprigs
1 can artichoke hearts (original recipe called for real artichokes, but I don’t have time for that)
1 cup farro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 heads of garlic, 1/4 inch cut off the tops
1 lemon, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 poblano pepper, sliced 1/3 inch thick (original recipe called for cubanelle peppers, but I couldn’t find those.)
1 bell pepper, sliced 1/3 inch thick
1 medium onion, quartered
1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 6 wedges
1 cup dried Black Mission figs (5 ounces), stemmed
1/2 cup raisins (original recipe called for golden raisins, I decided to use regular since I already had those)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges
1/2 pound large cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small green zucchini, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces kale, stemmed and leaves quartered
Chopped fresh oregano and Parmesan for garnish
Add the artichokes through the cherry tomatoes on the ingredient list, spread the ingredients in even layers. Add the fresh herb in a bundle near the top so you can get them out easily. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours.
Take out the little bundle of herbs so you can stir the stew gently without mixing the herbs in. Add the zucchini, yellow squash and kale, stirring to submerge them in the liquid. Add the herbs back to the top, cover and cook for 2 hours longer on high.
Pick out the herbs, season the farro stew with salt and serve with the garnishes at the table.
In order for me to make a recipe with this many ingredients, it has to be worth it. And this was totally worth it. All the ingredients create such depth of flavor – there is the bright acidity from the tomatoes and lemon, earthy sweetness from the figs and raisins, spice from the poblano and crushed red pepper, and the garlic and herbs add a ton too. I would say it is more of a risotto or veggie paella than a stew. This is super satisfying and super healthy. It is definitely the best vegetarian slowcooker meal I’ve ever made.
Stay tuned for Thursday’s post on Pumpkin Pasta, and the joys of eating out with toddlers.