We are in the middle of a New England heat wave, so I’m making an attempt not to heat up our living space beyond tolerable. So with that goal in mind, I went on an Internet search for summer vegetarian salads and came up with this gem from Food & Wine’s September 2009 issue. Summer Farro Salad originated with Marco Canora and the link to his original article is here.
Previously when I’ve cooked with the Italian grain, farro, If you are unfamiliar with this ancient grain, this article from Spruce Eats has a great overview. I’ve found the preparation (soaking, cooking, cooling) to be a bit off-putting. In reading F&W’s recipe, the Farro is simmered with aromatics for about 20 minutes total – way more approachable for those of us for whom cooking is more spontaneous.
- 1/3 cups + 2 TBSP extra virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small yellow onion, quartered
- 1 small carrot, halved
- 1 celery rib, halved
- 12 oz. farro (1 3/4 cups)
- 5 cups water
- kosher salt
- 3 TBSP red wine vinegar
- Fresh pepper
- 1/2 small red onion
- 1 small seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 pint grape comatoes halved
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the yellow onion, carrot and celery, cover and cook over moderately low heat until barely softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and stir to coat with oil. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the farro is barely tender (about 10 minutes). Season with salt. Cover and simmer until the farro is al dente (about 10 more minutes). Drain the farro and discard the onion, carrot, and celery. Let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the cooked farro, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
When we were both working full-time, Adrien and I would plan a stir-fry meal which used one of those bottled Asian-style sauces as a starting point. Now that was certainly quick and tasty, but I’m not exactly sure how many ingredients in the bottled product would be considered “healthy”. So, when I spotted this recipe in the New York Times Food section, I was intrigued: could a stir-fry sauce be created to satisfy the need for a pick-up home-cooked meal and still be without some of those preservatives and flavor enhancers that end up in prepared foods. I think my answer is a resounding YES! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try this one for yourself.
Adapted from Jenne Claiborne By Kim Severson as found in the New York Times Cooking
Ingredients – For the Sauce
- 1 tsp neutral oil (suggestion was to use grapeseed; I used coconut oil)
- 1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 6 Medjool or other dried dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 TBSP arrowroot powder or cornstarch
Ingredients – For the Stir Fry
- 1 TBSP grapeseed or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (or 2 shallots, thinly sliced)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped or julienned
- 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 oz. can drained and rinsed will do it)
- Freshly cooked rice
- 1 TBSP sesame seeds (I used toasted)
- 1-2 fresh limes quartered
- Garnish: chopped cilantro
- Make the sauce: in a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring just until garlic starts to turn golden (about 1 minute). Stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and dates. Let simmer 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot or cornstarch with 1/3 cup water until smooth. Slowly stir the mixture into the simmering sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken (quick!), remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When the sauce is cool enough to handle, transfer sauce to a blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Make the stir fry: In a wok or skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until softened. Add red pepper and carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli, chickpeas, and sauce, and cook, covered stirring occasionally, until vegetables are cooked to your liking (about 10 minutes).
- Serve over the cook rice, garnish with sesame seeds, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.