It has been a while my friends and I am so sorry to leave you hanging for so long! But I am back and hoping to get on a more regular posting schedule again. I spent some time in Colorado with family and friends, which was amazing. I am putting together a post on all of the wonderful hikes that we took and of course some of the food that we ate too. I also spend several days at an incredible leadership retreat in Charlotte, which has left me quite speechless for lack of a better word. I am still processing it all and will probably end up sharing some thoughts about that too. But for now, let’s talk about more important things – food! I was so excited to get back into the kitchen early this week.
As one of the “ancient grains”, farro tends to get lumped in with quinoa as a healthy-thing-that-we-should-be-eating-but-ugh-let’s-just-have-rice-again kind of deal. But actually, farro is not nearly as finicky as quinoa and is quite easy to prepare. In my experience, quinoa can get really mushy. On the other hand, farro maintains its bite and functions as a lovely base for a number of flavors.
I am one of those people that gets really excited for appetizers. (hello, wine and cheese!) When we were in Aspen, our hotel would put out some snacks and wine around 4 pm. I was pretty shocked to learn that one of the big hits of the “snack area” among my husband and our friends was a farro salad. You would think that next to tortilla chips and guac this would not be so appealing. But we all fell head over heels for this farro salad, which had the perfect balance of vegetables tossed with little bites of salty cheese. It felt healthy without feeling like you are depriving yourself of the good stuff, like cheese!
When I got home, I peeked over at my exploding pile of magazines and decided that might be a good place to start for recipe inspiration. (Sidenote: Hello, my name is Leah and I have a magazine subscribing problem). This Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto on the cover of Food and Wine Magazine from August caught my eye. I had farro and cheese on my mind from that salad in Aspen but since we don’t eat pine nuts due to food allergies, I needed to change up the pesto part a little bit. I also wanted to add in some cherry tomatoes because it is summer after all and we need to sing the praises of summer vegetables while we have them. So – here is what I ended up with and I am quite happy with it.
I feel I can confidently sing the praises of this recipe because we ate it two nights in a row. The lemony dressing packs a citrusy punch and balances well against the sweetness of the currants and the cherry tomatoes. The parmesan cheese gives it that salty bite that elevates this salad from another hum drum weeknight recipe to something you actually look forward to having. Plus it is good (but not too-too good) for you. I do hope that you give it a try!
Farro and Kale Salad with Currants, Parmesan and Lemon Dressing
Serves: 4 people
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup currants
1 tablespoon shallot, diced
4 cups of kale, removed from the stems and roughly chopped, divided
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups of cooked farro
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, roughly chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the currants and the shallot and saute until the shallot becomes translucent.
2. In a food processor, pulse 3 cups of the kale until finely chopped. Add lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse once or twice to combine.
3. In a large bowl, combine farro, currants, shallot and kale. Stir in cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup of kale leaves. Generously salt and pepper to taste.
4. Eat!! 🙂