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farro pilaf with gold beets

November 6th, 2011 | Comments Off

There’s no other choice now. The clocks are switched, falling back; the light in the morning is better but soon the winter darkness will settle on our afternoons. Temps will drop and all sorts of things happen that we’ve been very fortunate, up until now, to have avoided.

But still, we’ve had some beautiful weather. And right now I’m sitting in the wan light of dawn watching the clouds scuttle across the sky at a fast, furious clip. The patio door is open and it’s mild for a November morning. The clouds are fascinating, wind-whipped deep blue patches racing along as if they’ve got somewhere important they need to be. I sip my coffee, watching, taking it all in.

In a few weeks we’ll have Thanksgiving, and I’m trying to take that in as well. I’m also trying to plan a menu that doesn’t focus around meat, even debating whether to just do what I want and make a completely meat-free meal, or bow to convention, and what the rest of my family expects and make a turkey. The jury is still out on that one.

I do know one of the sides I plan to make.

Just about two years ago I came across this recipe, intrigued by Farro and the gold beets that I’d fallen in love with, and the first bite was a revelation. Somewhere in this dish, I began to see that a meal could be enjoyed without meat, and one that would leave me satiated without the bloat of something heavy. It was a good revelation, and something to start me on the road to better health.

Every component of this dish is not only perfect alone, but when mingled with each other makes for so much amazing texture and flavor. The Farro is chewy, with a deep nutty flavor; then you’ve got the beets and their greens to offer up a dark, earthy taste, a crisp pepper, robust cheese and a scatter of chopped pecans to add a bit more crunch. Every element of it is lovely, and on it’s own it could easily be a meal. Next to your turkey, it’s a terrific side dish.

I can’t complain about the seasonal change, the coming cold, or even the snow that’s rumored to fly soon. I’m ready, and with recipes like this, I’ll be warm from the inside too.

Got a favorite recipe or dish that keeps you warm and toasty in cold weather?

 

Farro Pilaf with Gold Beets

 

3 large gold beets, roasted and diced, with greens washed, de-ribbed and rough chopped
2-3 c. cooked farro (can sub brown rice)
1 red pepper, seeded, cored and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 c. crumbled feta or goat cheese
1/3 c. pecan pieces
salt and pepper to taste

{{Farro can be cooked like any other grain, with a 2:1 ratio of water to grain; 1 cup uncooked will yield the amount needed for this recipe. It should be tender to the bite, not too firm with a texture similar to barley. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly in a wire sieve prior to cooking. It can be very dusty.}}

In a deep skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat oil of choice and add red pepper, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add shallot, cooking until soft and slightly browned, maybe 5-8 more minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add the chopped greens and cook, stirring continually until just barely wilted. Stir in the cooked farro and diced beets. Add about 1/3 cup of water and combine. Cover the pot, turn heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until heated fully through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cheese and nuts.

KATE’S NOTES:
The mellow flavors of the beets and farro simply beg for a good salty and robust cheese. Feta is perfect, goat cheese would be great but blue cheese and gorgonzola also would work nicely. If you can’t find Farro, use Wheat Berries, or long grain brown rice.

 

~~originally from The New York Times recipes for Health and Nutrition, March 27, 2009; adapted by Kate

What’s on YOUR plate this month??


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