Farro Salad

It’s been a long winter and a rather dismal spring. Coronavirus aside (okay, is there REALLY anything “aside” about COVID-19?), the weather here has been chilly, damp and most of all – gloomy. I definitely need something to perk me up that has bright colors, loads of flavor and is easy to make. My shopping has changed thanks to COVID-19 and I am at the end of my two weeks since my last delivery. That means that fresh vegetables are sparse. But the idea of a dinner without some great veg dish is unthinkable. Farro Salad makes the perfect side for any grilled or roasted meat, poultry or fish. And since farro is a grain, one dish serves a dual purpose.

This Farro Salad is perfect as I made it, but don’t get too bogged down in specifics. If you don’t have red onion, use shallot, yellow onion or scallion. If you don’t have parsley, use cilantro, basil or even chopped spinach. Need to turn this into more of a main dish? Add some crumbled feta or queso fresco and chickpeas. And if you don’t have farro – well, I can’t help you there. Actually, that’s not true. Use another hearty grain like freekeh, barley or wheat berries. If you have none of those, try this with orzo. The important thing is to cook whatever grain/pasta that you are using according to the directions given on the package until al dente (With some “bite.”)

Farro comes in three forms: pearled, semi-pearled and whole. They each cook for different amounts of time and it is suggested that you soak the whole farro overnight. Any one of the types will work here. And if you are looking to stock your pantry with something other than beans and pasta, you can’t go wrong with farro, which is also delicious hot.

So even if you are living in a sunnier clime, we can all use every bit of the brightness, color and flavor we can get. Try this soon.

Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup of uncooked farro, cooked according to directions

2 Persian or mini-cucumbers, diced (If you don’t have these cucumbers, English cucumbers are a good replacement.) (Radishes would also work.)

About 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved and coarsely chopped

10-12 Kalamata or other flavorful black olive, chopped

Zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

1/2 of a small red onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Kosher or sea salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

Cracked black pepper, to taste (Or Aleppo pepper if you have it)

A generous 1/4 teaspoon of ground Sumac (optional)

About 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) good EVOO

Rounded teaspoon preserved lemon paste (Optional but delicious and great to have around!)

Directions

Cook the farro according to directions, but add the preserved lemon paste to the water if using. I added my salt to the cooking farro, but you can add it after the salad is pulled together. Drain and cool the farro.

Add the farro to all of the other ingredients and serve in a pretty bowl at room temperature. Left-overs can be covered well and left in a cool place overnight. You can refrigerate left-over salad but fresh tomatoes are never as good once they have been refrigerated.

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Apple, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad

We eat a LOT of salads in our house. They can be a complete lunch or dinner with some crusty bread and a glass of wine. Or they can be the myriad and varied salatim that are an essential part of any Middle Eastern meal. The Apple, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad is another entry from Adeena Sussman’s Sababa cookbook.

It can be made with persimmons or peaches instead of the apple. You also can vary the flavor palate depending on the type of goat cheese that you choose as well. What cannot change is the freshness of the produce, the quality of the pecans and goat cheese and the brightness of the lemony dressing. This is a very satisfying salad and is visually quite appealing. So the next time you want to dress things up a bit, give this Apple, Goat Cheese and Pecan salad a try. It is an especially nice accompaniment to the Za’atar Roasted Chicken over Sumac Potatoes and would be great with any fish dish.

Recipe

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side salad

Ingredients

For dressing

1/2 cup fruity EVOO

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1.5 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1.5 teaspoons date syrup (silan) (double the honey if you don’t wish to use silan)

1.5 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper or more, to taste

For the salad

1 large head if butter lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces (You could use another soft, flavorful lettuce if butter lettuce isn’t available.)

1 large, firm persimmon, peach or crisp apple (I like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup toasted pecans – whole or coarsely chopped

4 ounces of a soft goat cheese (I used one with vegetal ash, but you could use an herbed or good plain goat cheese.)

Directions

Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar until emulsified and creamy. Set aside until just ready to serve.

Arrange the salad ingredient in a shallow bowl or platter in an attractive arrangement. When you are ready to serve, give the dressing a good stir or shake and drizzle over the salad. You do not want to drown the salad and any extra can be refrigerated for another salad. You can also serve some additional dressing on the side after the initial drizzle so that people can add more if they wish. Now eat!

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad3 (2)NOTHING says summer quite like ripe, juicy, red slices of watermelon. I’ve eaten watermelon my entire life, but I first ate it with feta or Bulgarian cheese on a visit to the YMCA in Jerusalem about 8 years ago. It was a revelation. The salty tang of the cheese was the perfect foil for the sweet, juicy melon. It wasn’t on any menu – you just had to know to ask for it. Ever since that fateful meal, I have been combining the two ingredients. It really doesn’t take anything more than a drizzle of a good olive oil, but tonight I decided to add some fresh chopped mint and chives from my terrace garden along with a good squeeze of fresh lime juice and a drizzle of a fruity EVOO. Add the oil and lime juice just before serving for simply the most refreshing summer salad ever! While I have included measurements, I honestly just eye-ball everything. So don’t get too bogged down and use the measurements as a guideline only.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

6 cups of watermelon, without the rind and cut into large cubes

7 ounces of feta or Bulgarian cheese (Feta is ubiquitous and is very close to Bulgarian cheese.)

About 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons

About 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh chives

About 10 cracks of fresh black pepper

Sprinkling of sea salt or Kosher salt (The feta is fairly salty on its own, but I found that just a sprinkling of additional salt was needed to make everything sing.)

Juice of one lime

About 2-3 Tablespoons of a fruity EVOO

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Directions

  1. Place the watermelon, feta, mint, chives and black pepper in a bowl. Watermelon and Feta Salad1
  2. Just before serving, add the lime juice, salt and EVOO. Toss gently.

Steamed Artichokes with Tahini Sauce

Steamed Artichokes2Most people think of artichokes only as the hearts that come out of a can or jar or occasionally the freezer. They casually throw them into salad or maybe cook them with chicken and rice. Very little thought is given to the rest of the vegetable. I freely admit that steamed artichokes are an acquired taste – one that I acquired as a very young child. My mother frequently served them with a lemon butter sauce or a simple vinaigrette – both wonderful and something you should consider trying. I recall the fun of peeling off the leaves one by one and dipping them in the sauce while I grabbed that teeny bit of edible green at the bottom between my teeth. I would peel and dip and discard over and over anxiously waiting to get to the prize at the bottom – the artichoke heart. But first I had to winnow the leaves down until I came to the spiny purplish leaves which covered the fibrous choke. The trick then was to dig out the choke without losing even the tiniest bit of the heart. That wonderfully green, firm/tender taste of the heart was the final destination at the end of the journey.

I haven’t made artichokes in years but I saw a recipe in the Sunday Chicago Tribune newspaper by Leah Eskin that reminded me how truly simple they are to prepare and I made up my mind to make some. You want to find nice green, fat globes. They can be eaten warm or cold with a host of sauces. My husband was not a huge fan, but for me – well, it brought back many fond memories and I enjoyed it immensely. Give it a try and make up your own mind.

Steamed Artichokes with Tahini Sauce (I always make extra sauce since left-overs never go unused)

Yield: Makes 2 but can easily be doubled or tripled

Ingredients 

Steamed Artichokes

1 lemon cut in half

1/2 cup tahini

2 cloves of garlic

3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt plus 2 teaspoons

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or fresh cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground sumac

2 bay leaves

2 large, fat artichokes

Directions

  1. Trim the stems of the artichokes with a large chef’s knife. You only want about 1/2 inch of stem and the artichoke should be able to sit flat on its bottom. Using the large knife, cut through the top third of the artichoke, discarding the leaves. Pull off any nasty leaves along the bottom of the artichoke. Using a pair of kitchen shears, snip off the sharp points of the remaining visible leaves so that the top of each leaf is flat.
  2. Place the artichokes cut side up in a deep pot that is large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour in cold water to a depth of about one (1) inch. Place one garlic clove and the bay leaves in the bottom of the pot. Place 2 teaspoons of salt in the pot. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a dish or measuring cup and set aside. Place the lemon halves (without the juice!) into the pot. Steamed Artichokes3Bring the water to a boil,cover the pot and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Steam until tender, which took 25 minutes for me. When the artichokes are tender (test by piercing a sharp knife into the base) carefully remove them from the water. Either use tongs or a large slotted spoon. Place them cut side down onto a clean dish towel and allow them to drain for at least 10 minutes. Discard everything else. The artichokes can be made up to a day ahead and eaten cold or you can eat them immediately.
  3. While the artichokes are cooking make your sauce. Place the well-stirred tahini into a bowl or measuring cup with the lemon juice. Whisk until well blended. Then add the remaining clove of garlic that has been crushed, the 3/4 teaspoon of salt, the Aleppo pepper and enough cold water to achieve the consistency of sauce that you like. When you serve them, be sure to have a place for people to discard the leaves and individuals bowls of the sauce for dipping. Steamed Artichokes4

Holiday Coleslaw

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I could make the same thing every Thanksgiving and no one in my family would complain. But I would be unhappy and bored. So each year I try to keep all of the favorites but I then add some new element. Occasionally, like this year, one of the new things fails and ends up in the garbage before it ever makes it to my holiday table. However, I also had three successes and they are foods that would be delicious anytime. This is the first of those items and with the availability of pre-shredded slaw, it is a snap to put together. I used a colorful mix of kale, Brussel sprouts, carrots and cabbage which held up beautifully so that even with some left-overs, I could enjoy it a day later. While it added that satisfying crunch and lightness to my holiday meal, this slaw would be equally good with burgers (veggie or otherwise) or grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Holiday Slaw from kitchn and tweaked by me

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

For dressing

1/3 cup EVOO

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used a wonderful walnut Dijon mustard)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the salad

Two 14 ounce bags of mixed slaw or about 2.5 pounds of green cabbage, shredded (about 10 cups)

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

3/4 cup dried cranberries

One bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. I made this the night before and refrigerated it. Make it at least 30 minutes before to allow the flavors to meld properly.
  2. Put all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. This can be tossed at least two hours ahead and should be tossed at least 30 minutes before serving for optimal taste.

 

 

 

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Beet and Orange Salad

I find that North African food and Indian food mix and match beautifully. So when I was serving an Indian-themed dinner for the first night of Rosh HaShana, I didn’t hesitate to use this Moroccan beet salad as a side dish. Aside from being healthy and delicious, beets add such vibrant color to any table and when paired with bright oranges there are few foods that are more visually stunning. I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune and immediately decided to include it in my holiday dinner. Since now you can easily purchase pre-roasted and peeled organic beets in your grocery store, this dish only takes minutes to prepare. I prepped all of the elements ahead of dinner and then combined them just as my guests were arriving. If you add the oranges too soon, they will pick up the color from the beets and while the salad will still taste wonderful, the effect of the contrasting colors will not be as pronounced. And here for a perfect pairing of Moroccan and Indian….

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad by Joan Nathan from “King Solomon’s Table”

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

6 to 8 medium beets

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 to 3 navel oranges

Juice of 1 small lemon

2 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin, or to

taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. chopped green

pistachios

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the beets, rub them with the olive oil, and then wrap them in foil and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about one hour until tender when poked with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into bite-size wedges. (Or buy pre-roasted and peeled beets, simply drain and cut them.)
  3. With a sharp knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Slice off the peel and the white pith and cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments.
  4. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl or jar. Whisk in the olive oil, then toss with the beets. Let sit for a few hours at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, add the orange segments and sprinkle with the parsley and pistachio nuts for color.

Radish Slaw with Remoulade and Pistachios

Looking for a light, refreshing summer salad? This the answer to any steak or other rich, red meat dish that needs a zesty sidekick (though this also went very nicely with salmon).screen-shot-2017-06-03-at-8-57-20-pm-e1496538875297.pngWe made this originally to pair with our steak with corn salsa, and then quickly realized it went well with an assortment main meats.

Ingredients

Remoulade

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 1/2 tsp liquid from canned chipotles in adobo sauce (optional but if you have the chipotles from the steak recipe then why not?)

—–

  • 1 large daikon radish, about 8 oz, peeled and dice
  • 1 bunch red radishes, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • (optional but good if you’re repurposing leftovers) handful of mixed greens

Directions

  1. Place the egg in boiling water for 90 seconds using a slotted spoon.
  2. Take the egg out of the water, let it cool slightly. Tap the top of the egg to peel of the top of the shell and using a small tsp, carve out the egg from the shell (think of it as a flash soft boiled egg). Add to a food processor.
  3. Add the lemon juice, mustard, salt and the pepper and pulse or blend. With the motor running, add the olive oil until it is emulsified.
  4. Add the tomato paste, parsley, chives, capers, cornichons and the chili liquid and keep processing until well mixed.
  5. Separately, combine the radishes and celery in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the remoulade to coat completely and mix. (Save the remaining remoulade for seafood dishes or sandwich condiment. We still haven’t figure out what to do with our leftovers quite yet. Mainly because we forgot about it.)
  6. After mixing thoroughly, refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  7. Prior to serving, add the pistachios and mix.

Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.

Beet and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I used to live right above a Le Pain Quotidien and as it was one of the few restaurants in my neighborhood where I could just sit with my newspaper and eat my favorite soft boiled eggs.  They also had some light, rustic French fare that included this tasty quinoa salad.

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We try to pack our lunches during the week, and lately I’ve been making a lot of quinoa salads, but it felt time to mix up the type of quinoa salad.  I suddenly remembered this one, and it ended up also being a delicious brunch when set over some lightly dressed arugula and a side of avocado toast.

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Add some eggs and then you truly have a healthy but elaborate brunch. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium beet, chopped (I like to buy the precooked, prepeeled beets and just dice them)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas

If you’re serving this over an arugula salad… then also:

  • 2 cups arugula per serving

And if you want to add eggs…

  • 3-4 eggs/person

Directions

  1. Begin by preparing the Quinoa salad. In a medium bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, beet, parsley, and chickpeas. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until fully incorporated.
  2. If you’re serving over arugula, add arugula to your serving plates, and then add about a cup of the quinoa salad.
  3. If you also want to add eggs, heat olive oil on a medium sized skilled, crack your eggs into the skillet and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the whites are not runny anymore.  Serve on top of everything else!

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien, Quinoa Taboule Salad Recipe.

 

Easy Feta and Roasted Tomato Salad

Light salads often feature as a first course in our more elaborate dinners on the weekends.  Oftentimes I know I want to make a green salad but am never sure what to throw into them.  The best salads, though, are often when you discover leftover bits and pieces in  your fridge, that when assembled look picture perfect.  This was one of those.

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I happened to have a bunch of roasted tomatoes leftover from a previous brunch, and so decided to throw them into this light salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 lb arugula
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with foil with the flesh sides up.   Season with salt and pepper and oregano.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the tomatoes look slightly browned.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Cut the block of feta cheese into 2″ squares and set aside.
  4. Once the tomatoes are done, let them cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Assemble the salad by placing the arugula in a shallow bowl, followed by an arrangement of feta and tomatoes to your taste.
  6. Serve immediately!

Herbed Farro Salad

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Farro is one of those wonderful ancient grains that is so satisfying it might just turn you into a vegetarian. I’m using an organic, whole-grain farro which I buy at nuts.com. You can also make this with a pearled version of farro. Since the cooking times are very different, follow the cooking instructions on the farro you buy. This salad is from Giada DeLaurentiis, slightly tweaked by me. It is a wonderful side dish to grilled fish or meat. If you add some cubed feta or Bulgarian cheese, it becomes a light meal in itself.

Herbed Farro Salad

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1.5 cups of farro, cooked according to instructions on package

1.5 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half if small or quarters if larger (If you can buy the small heirloom tomatoes, it makes for a very delicious and colorful salad.)

1/2 chopped sweet or red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley or a mixture of cilantro, parsley and mint (I used a mixture this time, but have made it with just parsley as well.)

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Fresh cracked black pepper or Aleppo Pepper to taste

about 1/4 cup EVOO

Directions

  1. Drain the farro and allow to cool to just warm.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, chive and parsley and mix through.
  3. In a jar or small bowl, mix together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and EVOO and add to the farro salad. Toss to coat everything.

NOTE: This salad is best eaten at room temperature so if you make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, take it out 30 minutes before serving.

Cooking Farro: There are many different methods, but the following is how I cooked it.

For whole-grain organic farro, I used these directions:

Soak farro in water for 8 hours or overnight to reduce overall cooking time. To cook whole-grain farro on the stove top, combine 3 parts liquid to one part farro. Bring the farro to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook uncovered for approximately 30-45 minutes, or until the grain is tender. It is a bit of personal taste just how chewy you like your farro.

For pearled farro, use these directions:

Use 3 parts liquid to 1 part farro. Bring water or broth to a rolling boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the farro and let it cook for 20 minutes. For a chewy texture, cook for less time. For a mushy texture, cook longer.