Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Just in case you were unduly shocked by yesterday’s post on roasting a lamb’s head, today’s recipe is something totally, absolutely and 100% animal free. While I can easily get excited and inspired by a rarity like a lambs head, something as simple as a bunch of mint or a bright yellow lemon will get me going just as much.
I'm also often inspired by friends' and colleagues' blogs. Like everyone else in the world when it comes to diving into the sweet end of things, I head to David Lebovitz. And when it comes to healthy, delicious dishes that taste bright and look fantastic I visit Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks. Some of my favorite recipes have come from her blog over the years. And even when I don’t end up cooking specific dishes, her general way of putting together a meal - and the bright, clean flavors that she uses - ends up informing my own recipes more often than I realize.
So the other day when I decided to make a farro salad for dinner it was definitely my inner Heidi that I was channeling. That and the bumper crop of mint on the terrace resulted in a minty, chewy, crunchy, lemony salad that was healthy, filling and delicious. (just like Heidi in other words)
The secret to any successful grain salad is adding enough zing to make it sing. I used tons and tons of mint, as well as more lemon juice than you’d think. To brighten it up further I also added the chopped rind of a lemon. The tomatoes - the first tiny datterini to make it up to Rome from Sicily - went in not just because they were bursting with sunshine, but because I loved their red color.
If you've never made farro before, do so right now. You can use it many ways, but an easy starter recipe is to use it like I did, in a salad. Just substitute your regular grain - rice, barley or quinoa - for farro. It's an ancient grain, very good for you and - what I like about it the most - it remains chewy and firm even after sitting over night in the fridge. I also think the nutty taste pairs well with all sorts of stronger ingredients.
And farro really does work well in all kinds of dishes. Hot, cold or room temperature, it's an all purpose kind of grain. And if for some reason my recipe isn't working for you, head over to Heidi's, where she's got years of farro recipes. Be inspired. (With no lamb's head in sight.)
Minty Farro Salad
2 cups farro
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
chopped rind from one lemon
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut up
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add farro and cook till tender. This will probably take about 40 minutes.
In the meantime put all the other ingredients, except for the feta, in a big bowl. When the farro is done, drain and add to bowl. Toss. Adjust for seasonings. When it has cooled down a bit, add the feta and toss, reserving a bit of the feta to sprinkle on the top for garnish.