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summer sizzle, and a discovery

July 31st, 2011 | 3 Comments »

July is segueing into August, bringing the dog days of Summer. It’s been a scorcher, but this is such summertime, hot, sultry weather that we can only dream about in January. Heat shimmers on roads, whistles through trees and sears down on our heads and shoulders. Night time should bring some relief, but many nights have passed that the heat remains unrelenting. Morning has no cool hours to enjoy. It’s summer. As it should be.

We yearned for this back in June. On June 23rd I recall wearing slippers on my feet because it was so chilly. There was a lot of complaining, a lot of griping, plenty of pleas for sun and heat. Then it came. And of course, we had more to gripe about. But for me, I love the heat. I can even appreciate the humidity, because it creates curls in my hair that I don’t get otherwise.

And the heat/humidity combination has made my garden thrive. Along with regular rainstorms (monsoons, really…the rain has been copious) I have seen phenomenal growth in the tomato and pepper plants, and they are loaded with buds and fruit. I am almost drooling at the sight of it all. The herbs have flourished, including some volunteer oregano that came up from last year’s seed. I went out one day to snip some of the herbs for dinner and was THRILLED to spy this on the parsley:


That’s a Black Swallowtail caterpillar and my initial inspection revealed four of these on my plant. This is what the butterfly itself looks like.

I was really excited to find these caterpillar, and will happily offer my parsley to them for food. According to the information I found on the species, this particular caterpillar spins it’s cocoon and then overwinters inside it, hatching in the Spring. I’ll have to watch for these guys to make their transformation, then likely I will bring them inside to insure the survival over the winter. It will be fun to watch them, should we manage to keep them viable until Spring. The year Griffin was five we had a Monarch chrysalis that we found, and it was such an amazing thing to be able to watch it change and then see the butterfly emerge. One year at our lake home we had an abundance of chrysalis that we found on our lakeshore plantings. What a miraculous thing it is to see.

Once I discovered the caterpillar, I placed a piece of screen over the plant to keep them safe from birds. Within a day, I could only see the three largest caterpillar; the smallest one is either hiding really well or has disappeared. They’re eating and moving around the parsley, and one evening as I watered the garden, I got the hose a bit too close to the plant and sprayed them good. Bending down to inspect them, I noticed one of the caterpillar lifted it’s hind end off the stem and shook off a drop of water. What a funny thing to see. Of course that evening there was a torrential downpour, and I found myself worrying about them out in the garden. Silly, I know. But three gorgeous Butterflies will roam the earth if I can successfully keep these caterpillar alive. That’s worth worrying about, I say.

The hot weather hasn’t given me much motivation in terms of big cooking projects. I’ve been loading up on goodies from the markets, bags upon bags of produce to keep on hand and fill our bellies, but with the intense heat, our appetites have been lower than normal, and sometimes a big salad and a hearty slice of bread is all we can manage to dish up for dinner. I’ve been happily filling pots of bubbling polenta with fresh herbs and corn kernels, sighing my way through a bowl of that when I have the wherewithal to stand at the stove for a half hour. Mostly we’re just enjoying ourselves, with some much needed adult time for Mike and I as Griffin has been spending a lot of overnights with his friends. It’s been lovely for us. Just lovely.

What have you been doing for this hot, hot July???

ONE YEAR AGO…..
2010- I was working like crazy at a local golf club, and picking Blueberries in the Summer Rain(find a recipe for Blueberry Syrup in this post!!)

TWO YEARS AGO…..
2009- It was all about raspberries; come and take a walk with me on a country road lined with wild raspberry bushes.

ratatouille gratin

July 27th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Eventually, we all know it’s going to happen; the bounty of summer vegetables is going to begin to overwhelm home cooks. This rapid increase of summer heat has brought my tomato plants into full force growth, skyrocketing up in the garden and bursting out buds like crazy. If this keeps up, August is going to be both delicious and ridiculous. And zucchini? We all know that one plant per home garden is enough to keep a happy cook in oblong green delight, but the overly enthusiastic gardeners who tend several plants will one day walk out to their garden and be confronted with tons of zucchini. Mark my words. Then they’ll do whatever they can to pawn the excess off on anyone who’ll look their way. Then there’s eggplant. The purple orbs are everywhere once they’re ripe. My word. It’s craaaaa- zee. But in a good, good way.

Because I found The. Best. summer vegetable option once your countertop is over-flowing with fresh zucchini, tomato and eggplant.

Provided your willingness to turn on your oven, here’s a dish that screams out “SUMMERTIME!!” in every bite, from the heady garlic and fresh herb infused olive oil that you drizzle over everything to the fresh vegetables that make up the bulk of this gratin. Get a really, really good loaf of bread for the base, a fine bottle of white wine for you, and enjoy a meal worthy of any fancy summer dinner party, or simply a way to ease yourself out of a hectic day.

I spied this recipe on the Food & Wine website, searching for some new plant-friendly recipes to add to our eating repertoire. I knew we’d love it and I wasn’t disappointed. Once out of the oven, the smell was killing me. I could barely wait for it to cool enough to cut a slice and dig in. Mike came home from meeting with some of his clients, and despite having already eaten lunch, I pretty much shoved a slice at him and demanded that he try it. Which he did. He’s got the right attitude, hmm?

The base of this gratin is made from good rustic bread, torn in to pieces and drizzled with a heady blend of garlicky oil inundated with fresh herbs. It bakes up nice and crunchy, aromatic and flavorful, adding a nice contrast to the soft baked tomato, zucchini and eggplant slices gracing the top. A smattering of fresh basil, a spray of good parmesan cheese and a fork. Oh, and don’t forget the wine. It’s a dish that tastes of summertime, reeking of warm days, the scent of cut grass and the way the night air sulks around at dusk with the lingering scent of the day before finally giving way to the cool of night. If anything else smacks of good seasonal eating, show me, because I really want to know.

You know that day will come when you glance, overwhelmed, at the summer bounty before you and you think ‘Oh dear, what do I do NOW???’ Well I have the answer, my friends. You will make this dish. And with one bite, you will determine when you can make it again. And maybe, again.

Do you have any favorite ways to use zucchini and eggplant??

Ratatouille Gratin

1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4″ thick
3-4 medium tomato, sliced 1/4″ thick.
1/2 c. good olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced extra fine
1 heaping tablespoon each fresh thyme, parsley and basil, minced fine, plus extra for finishing
1 1-lb loaf good quality artisan bread, torn in to 1-2″ pieces (i used a good sourdough, left in a paper bag overnight)

Stir olive oil, garlic and the heaping tablespoons of fresh herbs together in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine.

Toss eggplant and zucchini with 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt and let stand for about 20-30 minutes. Drain any liquid and gently squeeze dry, if possible. Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and pepper.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and arrange torn bread in bottom. Pack the bread in as tight as possible in one layer, using the entire loaf. Drizzle the bread with about 2 T. of the garlic/herb oil. Arrange the eggplant slices on top, then the zucchini, then the tomato. Drizzle the top of the vegetables with another tablespoon or two of the oil and sprinkle some thyme leaves over that.

Bake the gratin for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are aromatic and slightly browned and the bread crust is crispy. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with minced basil and parsley and fresh grated parmesan before serving, if desired. The gratin can be served warm, or at room temperature. To reheat, place gratin on a baking sheet and rewarm in a low oven.

From Food & Wine, with heavy modifications

pizza like you’ve never seen before

July 20th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

I do realize that’s a pretty strong statement, given the evolution of pizza from your basic tomato pie with sausage or pepperoni to the amazing creations available at any number of fancy wood and coal-fired joints around town. Pizza is one of those food items that’s tireless in it’s ability to transform itself, often gravitating out to an entire new plain before charging back to it’s humble beginnings once more. What’s old is new again, right? Pizza. Hand held food, and a very personal statement if ever one existed. Everyone has their own ideas about what makes good pizza; what kind of sauce tastes best, what toppings make for the most flavor, the amount of cheese, thin crust or thick, crunchy or soft.

My personal favorite was always sausage, green pepper and black olive. Something about that combination made perfect sense to my mouth. I could handle pepperoni, plain with no additions but given a choice, sausage ruled. The cheese had to be ample, enough to stretch happily out from the crust as I bit in to it, and it always, always needed several shakes of grated parmesan cheese on top. I can still put away a few slices of this perennial favorite, but my tummy wouldn’t be too happy with me. These days, I’m far more content to cover my pizza crust (thin, but not crispy) with a number of vegetables and a much less substantial amount of cheese. I’ve been known to eschew pizza sauce in favor or pesto, or no sauce at all. I’ve rubbed crushed roasted garlic over the crust before placing the toppings on it and I’ve tried lots of variations on the pizza theme, including dessert pizza. I may grow and evolve with my tastes, but I still love pizza. And often I think that I’ve tried most ways possible to eat the ultimate hand-held meal.

Then I made this pizza:

And wow, did I realize how wrong I was.

Because all the pizza I’d made involved creating a pie with toppings that baked in the oven. A scatter of diced red peppers, chunks of portabella mushrooms, spinach leaves etc etc…. you place them on the crust and let the oven do it’s work.

This pizza, however, required a bit of foresight. The tomatoes must be roasted ahead of time, and the mushrooms need a nice dousing of good balsamic vinegar and a turn on a superbly hot grill before they can be placed on your pizza crust, covered with a bit of cheese and given a quick dash in to a scorching 500° oven. But the prep is worth it; this pizza has more incredible flavor than what might normally be rendered from placing regular cherry tomatoes and portabella mushrooms on pizza crust.

Recently, I attended a dinner at Levain in Minneapolis, and one of the courses was served with roasted balsamic oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I’m learning to enjoy mushrooms in many forms, having been one of those foods that I simply could not eat for a very long time. But given that I grew up with canned mushrooms in my meals, really, can you blame me? I am a recent convert to balsamic grilled portabella mushrooms at home, loving how flavorful they are, and these mushrooms at Levain delighted me to no end. In fact, many of the other attendees to this dinner stated that these deliciously flavored mushrooms turned them around from their dislike of the fungi and made them happy fanatics. I was in heaven, savoring each tender, savory bite and in the days since, dreamed of those mushrooms gracing my dinner plate.

Then along came this pizza. With tomatoes slowly roasted in the oven until they sizzled and popped. But it needed something else, a rich deep something to balance that tender sweet flavor and these mushrooms, liberally doused in balsamic and olive oil, then cooked lickety-split on a searing hot grill made for a heavenly companion.

The cherry tomatoes themselves are created with enough flavor to please all on their own; a quick toss with crushed garlic, thinly sliced shallot and a generous handful of panko breadcrumbs, they are then dressed in a bit of olive oil and some fresh thyme and set under the broiler. The heat renders the cherry tomatoes sweeter than you could imagine, with a nice crumb mixture, bits of crunchy shallot and garlic, and here’s where I think the pizza reaches new heights because that browned, seasoned bread crumb on top of your pizza crust makes for a flavor  you just can’t get from bread alone.

It all just requires a bit more thought. And every bite is worth it too. Even a few days later as I pulled the last slice from the fridge and ate it cold. It was all worth it.

What’s your absolute favorite way to eat pizza?

Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomato & Balsamic Mushrooms

2 pints cherry tomatoes, washed.
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic, smashed and crushed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 t. fresh thyme
1 pkg Portabella mushrooms slices
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. good quality balsamic vinegar

Pizza dough and cheese topping of choice

Preheat your broiler. In a bowl, combine the cherry tomato, panko, garlic, shallot and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle the mixture with about 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss gently to coat. Spread mixture on a large cookie sheet and place under the broiler, watching carefully, until the tomatoes begin to sizzle, and brown in spots. It should take maybe 10 minutes or so, being careful not to allow the panko to burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Whisk 1/4 c. oil and the balsamic together until emulsified. Pour over the mushrooms in a bowl, and gently toss with a rubber spatula until all the emulsion is absorbed. Do not add more oil or vinegar. The mushrooms can be grilled, or they can also be broiled until they are richly browned and tender.

Heat your oven to 500° and if you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Roll out your pizza dough to desired size and thickness on parchment paper. Scoop some of the cherry tomato mixture on to the crust, then scatter the mushrooms. Add your cheese and place parchment on heated pizza stone. Bake the pizza until crust is golden and topping sizzle. It shouldn’t take long at all.

Original recipe from Food & Wine, with heavy modifications.

Kate says: I used a pizza dough recipe from Cooks Illustrated. Wish I could give it to you but they don’t like it when bloggers share their recipes, the meanies. Any scratch pizza dough you like will work.

radishes! radishes! radishes!

July 16th, 2011 | 7 Comments »

People, I’ve madly fallen in love with radishes.

(photo courtesy of Really Natural)  
 

I do remember not particularly liking them as a kid. But then again, I didn’t care for much then anyway, being raised on a typically 1970′s diet, I was your typically picky little thing. Fresh foods weren’t that present in our home so my exposure was lacking and my palate not particularly advanced; it’s no shock I wasn’t at all enamored with the radish’s peppery bite, a sting to the tongue that I found unpleasant. My sister Karen loved them, dragging them through a plate of table salt before popping them in her mouth. Even that typical dressing did nothing to take the edge off the flavor. So for the most part, I’d ignored them.

Then something happened a few years back. On a trip to the Farmers Market, I spied a large bunch of red, white and pink radishes- it was an enormous amount- and was only a dollar. I picked them up, passed a buck to the farmer and placed them in my bag. Once home, I stared at them and thought ‘Great. Now what?’ I ate one, and it was divine. Fresh, snappy, crisp and tart, but not harsh and sour like I recalled. Still, I didn’t leap headfirst into devouring them. I remained rather skeptical. And they languished in my fridge until I was forced to do something, anything, with them.

So I pickled them. On a whim. And went tuckus over teakettle for the crisp little discs, eating them on sandwiches, with my fingers and finally with a fork to grab the last little slices from the dredges of their vinegary brine. And it was soon after that when I first dragged a cold fresh radish through a slab of creamy butter to discover one of the best, and most surprising treats I’ve ever tasted. My eyes were now opened to the radish. Once again. Adulthood is a wonder around every corner, especially when discovering the foods from your childhood that once caused you to turn up your nose are now part of your regular gustatory delight.

So they’ve happily made a comeback; the inexpensive little things can be had sometimes on a 2-fer deal with any farmer willing to move their bounty. I scrub them down and place them in a baggie where they happily keep for days on end, willing that they last that long in my fridge. I eat them for breakfast a lot, sliced thick on good toasted bread with slices of butter, or most recently, this delicious sandwich creation that I’m thoroughly ga-ga over.

A cooked egg, nice and firm is placed a top a bed of greens on nicely toasted bread, and covered with several shredded radishes. The key is to shred the radish directly over the egg. Something about the fresh spray of liquid released makes for a much better flavor. I like spinach with this, but I’ve used spring greens, garden lettuce and romaine as well. This is a summery breakfast, if I’ve ever dreamed of one.

I took my radish love one step further too, recently, when I roasted an entire batch of them.

Roasting radishes takes the sharp flavor away, and replaces it with a mellow soft rendition that is palatable to anyone, even the most avowed radish hater. One would hope, anyway. I could have eaten these like candy, but instead, I caramelized a big pan of vidalia onions and made the two of them into a delicious tart atop a flaky puff pastry crust.

This was a sweet, tender and amazing hand held meal, soft like summer nights, fresh as the season and when topped with just a little Gouda cheese, a bit of savory tang that balanced the vegetables perfectly. Eating a slice of it, on my patio, with a lovely glass of Rosé wine and a perfect summer night surrounding me, I felt a million miles away from my life, but in the simplest way possible. I love how a good meal, with gentle ease can transform an ordinary day into something surreal and dreamy. That’s the magic in a plate of really, really good food.

So…. do you like radishes? What do you like to do with them?

Roasted Radish & Caramelize Onion Tart

Scrub one bunch of radishes well, removing tops and roots. Cut into halves or quarters and toss with a bit of seasoned oil of choice. Roast at 400° until tender. It won’t take too long, maybe 10 minutes.

Slice two Vidalia onions and place in a hot skillet. Cook onions over medium heat, turning frequently, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add a few tablespoons of brown sugar (or a drizzle of good honey) a tablespoon of kosher salt and a dash or two of balsamic vinegar. This is my favorite way to caramelize onions, but you may have your own method. Continue cooking the onions for about 20-30 more minutes, or until they are very soft and richly browned. Stir them on occasion, and be careful not to let them burn.

Thaw one sheet of puff pastry. Roll out sheet to desired thickness on parchment paper, then transfer to baking sheet. Poke holes in pastry with a fork and place in 400° oven, baking until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, spread caramelized onion over the crust then top with roasted radish and a small amount of a good sharp aged cheese of your choice. I used Gouda because I had a some on hand. Fontina and Gruyere would be good options too. Place back in oven and bake for about 15 more minutes, until edges of pastry are crisp and brown and toppings are hot. Allow to cool slightly, then serve. Can also be served at room temperature.

 
 

wordless wednesday, july style

July 13th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

“we stagger through an immense summer morning after showers leave their sweet bouquet
smelling of liquid lace, lovely as a song and secret wild blossoms……”

 “the sun has burned our skin dry, like a slender page,
we crack with sound and heat, like red dirt whipping on the wind
thin streams of perspiration trailing cheekbones pink with heat”

“green leaves shimmer with resigned fury against the burning sky, clouds sift by
lazily chasing the sun, tomatoes gently boil on the vine
and even my shadow has left to look for shade.” KJS

 

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day
is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
-  Ada Louise Huxtable 

exploring chard

July 10th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Beyond the deep green of spinach, and now kale, I hadn’t yet moved towards other deep green leafy vegetables, such as collards, mustard greens, or chard of any variety. But I’m working slowly to incorporate more of this incredibly nutritional vegetable in to my diet though. It’s a work in progress, for sure. So, in consideration that I didn’t just wake up one morning in a “Hallelujah!!” moment and love spinach to death, or eat one bite of kale and declare myself transformed, trying out Chard, and finding that I liked it on the first attempt was somewhat surprising.

( photo courtesy of Going Local )

I’m exploring a lot more offerings on the tables at the Farmers Market these days. And really, I’m loving the results. Approaching my favorite organic farmer one afternoon, I spied a small bunch of delicate baby red chard sitting on his table, with it’s lush deep red veins and crisp, exceptionally dark leaves and something in my mind went “Get that now!” and so I held out a few dollars and walked away with this thick bunch of greens thinking “I have no clue what to do with this.”

But thankfully, that’s never stopped me before. And we learn a lot through often just following our will in to adventure; listening to the voice that tells us to turn left at the crossroads, even when you have no idea where ‘Left’ goes. I trust my gut instinct. And this bundle of red chard was that gut instinct telling me to branch out. So I sauteed the chard one morning, and topped it with a poached egg. I’d been making this breakfast for a while now, only with leafy braised kale and loving how energizing and delicious it was. It seemed the next logical step was to try it with chard.

And I was devouring – devouring –  the last bite when I realized that I should have maybe tried to take a picture of it. So trust me, ok? It was divine.

The next week when I went back, there sat my favorite farmer, again with bunches of Red Chard on his table, although much larger and leafier than before. I told him how delicious that tiny bunch had been and his eyes lit up. You see, my very first experience with chard years ago, and subsequent experiences since then were not favorable. Maybe I wasn’t ready at that point to be going ‘Left’ in my exploration of leafy greens, of appreciating the merits of good health that they offered.  It hadn’t left a very good impression, but that little bunch of organic chard, at this point in my life where I am firmly rooted in learning, exploring and embracing a plant-based eating plan, well that impulse purchase had Wow-ed me, and I happily handed over a few more dollars and stuffed another huge bunch in my sack. When I made it again, it was lunch for Mike and I.

And I remembered to take a picture.

But like spinach, and beet greens, a whole enormous pile of leafy chard can be reduced to a little pile of barely anything by a few quick turns in a hot skillet. And with one lunch, plus me stealthily hiding the leftovers so only I could benefit from them, that delicious $2 bunch of red chard was gone in a matter of moments. But it left such a nice taste and experience in my mouth that I eagerly anticipated a return to said farmer, and maybe TWO bunches of it this time. Alas, by the time I got back to that market, his slot remained unhappily empty. Given that it was the day after July 4th, I’ll grant him his absence. But by golly, if next week rolls around and he isn’t in his usual place, his hat pushed back and a truck full of truly wonderful produce behind him, don’t be surprised if you hear that I’ve broken down crying.

Because that’s how quickly, and deeply I’ve fallen for this rich and lush green. It’s dark and brooding, silky, tender and tastes like I’m in the middle of a deep forest drawing in the air, and the green. Can a vegetable taste like a color? Does color even have a taste? To me it does, and this chard tastes like it looks. Deep green, and rich with flavor and I’m sold, 100%.

Have you tried Chard? What do you like to do with it?

 

Chard and White Beans with Fresh Herbs

2 small shallots, finely minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (use minced garlic scapes if you have them, about 2 T. worth)
2 big bunches red chard, stems removed and rough chopped
1 15-oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 T. each finely minced parsley and thyme
1/2 c. cooked wheatberries (optional- I had these on hand and they were delightful in this dish)

In a large skillet, saute shallot and garlic until tender. Add the chard in handfuls, stirring to saute. Cook chard for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in white beans and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes to blend flavors. Add a few tablespoons of water if dry.

Recipe from Whole Foods, with heavy modifications


 

toasted farro with greens and tahini

July 5th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

I’m learning a lot on this plant-friendly journey, with the biggest lesson being that all plants based meals, while gorgeous in color, aren’t always the easiest to photograph.

Take this Farro and Greens dish……

It was delicious, satisfying and full of textures and tastes. But when I tried to plate it to photograph, I stared down at it’s curly leaves of kale, it’s burnished grains and hearty nuts and said  “Dang, you’re kind of homely.” Because it was, through no fault of it’s own though.

Thankfully I didn’t hurt it’s feelings.

I ended up having to take it outside into full on natural light, not the light through the west window in my sunroom where I usually set up my shots. Even then, outside it took about 8 shots before I really started getting the angle right, the focus firm and the shot like I wanted. And I was talking to it. Outside. On my patio steps, hunched over to get the right angle and mumbling to my food. Yeah. I’m THAT kind of blogger.

But enough already….. delicious? Did I mention that? Wow with a capital “W” !!! It was good at room temperature after I tossed all the ingredients together. It was fine, oh so fine, when I ate it cold for lunch the very next day. And it was still good heated up a day or two after that.

And that’s another thing I’m learning; plant-based foods can manage a patient wait in your fridge so much longer than a dish with meat. (yeah, I know…..duh) And they can happily sit on your counter for a while (like over an hour when you, ahem, forget about them there) and really there’s no loss to you, or risk in it at all.

And quick….. quick! Plant based meals are lickety-split quick, people. I had this done in the time it took to slowly simmer the kale to a great tenderness, all of 15 minutes. A recent lunch with red chard and great northern beans took maybe 5 minutes to pull together. A side salad, those amazing chickpeas I just talked about? Less than 10. My humongous salads topped with a whole rainbow of crunchy veggies? Well, if I take the time to prep all of it ahead of time and keep them in containers, I can have a giant heaping bowl of a masticator’s delight in maybe 5 easy minutes. I made Peanut Noodles, and in the time it took to boil water and cook the noodles, the pepper, cucumber, green onion and carrot were done and sitting on the counter.

So yeah…. quick. And delicious. And healthy….. I still feel so amazing, and the best part? Even on those nights I don’t sleep so good, which seems to be the story of my life, I still am energetic enough to get through the day without collapsing. I feel tired, but the exhaustion that I had come to expect just isn’t there anymore. I feel pretty humbled by this little experiment, and so grateful for the ability to swiftly change directions, to move into even better health and well-being and to be able to talk about it and share it with you.

Now if only these pretty, colorful and healthy little meals would step up their game under my camera lens.

 

Toasted Farro with Greens and Tahini

1 c. cooked farro, or wheatberries, cooled and chilled.
2 T. tahini
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 c. tightly packed greens, chopped- you can use kale, spinach, chard, mustard, collard, turnip… whatever you like
1/2 c. parsley leaves
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the tahini and olive oil with two tablespoon of water and set aside.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. When very hot, add the chilled farro. Don’t mind if a little moisture causes it to hiss or sizzle. It will cook off as you toast the grain. Shake the pan often, heating the grains until they’re very warm and fragrant, maybe 5 minutes. Be very careful not to burn them. When hot and toasty, remove grains to a bowl. To empty skillet, add 1/3 cup of water and the greens, stirring and cooking until they’re tender but still have a bit of toothy bite. Add the farro and the tahini mix, and stir to combine. Allow to cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with nuts, if using.

Source: Food and Wine magazine, with heavy modifications

 

KATE’S NOTES: I used wheatberries for the farro in the recipe as I had some already cooked in the freezer and farro is often hard to find. They make a perfect substitute. You could also sub in cilantro in place of the parsley, or add more fresh herbs, like thyme or oregano. I also added in lemon zest to make the overall flavor brighter.