Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese

After a few months of hearty, filling, and warming soups and stews, I’m looking forward to the freshness that Spring ingredients are bringing to the table. Having spotted some farro, I decided to give it a try – a lot nuttier and chewier than rice, farro is also a higher-protein alternative (even to brown rice), that goes along well in an otherwise vegetarian meal. The nuttiness also adds a great texture to the softer, roasted veggies and overall, the dish keeps you feeling full for hours. I found that the salad tasted even better the next day once the dish had time to absorb some of the flavors, so it makes for a great portable and healthy lunch as well. And in my next post, I’ll explore farro’s colder-weather counterpart, wheatberries, which is the star of some great dishes that I’ve now had at Caseus and August in New Haven.

Before cooking this recipe, it is important to keep in mind the kind of farro you’re using. As Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen points out,  “Farro comes whole/unpearled, semi-pearled (semi-perlato) and pearled (perlato); pearling describes how much of the exterior bran is removed, but packages are not always labeled. If your package says it will cook in less than 15 minutes, it’s probably pearled; if it takes around 30 minutes, it’s probably semi-pearled. And if it takes 60 to 80 minutes, it is whole or unpearled.” Just as a reference, I got pearled farro from Trader Joe’s which took between 10-12 minutes to cook.

Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 and 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, cut into small chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 cup diced eggplant
  • 2 cups farro
  • 3-4 ounces goat cheese
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used blood orange balsamic vinegar)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, and onion in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper and lemon pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, and roast for 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Cut eggplant into slices. Spread slices onto a paper towel and lightly salt. Let sit for 15 minutes to absorb excess water. Blot dry. Grill them on the electric griddle until slightly browned or roast in a separate pan with the rest of the vegetables.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the farro. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, season with salt, and add the farro. Cook according to instructions.
  5. Combine the cooked farro and vegetables, then add the goat cheese. Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, seasoning with salt and pepper, and drizzle over the farro mixture.

Liked this dish? Click here for more farro recipes!

Roasted Sweet Potato Poblano Salad

As someone who ordinarily detests MBA students, or at the very least, Yale MBA students, I was very happy when their building relocated from right next to our political science department to about 5-7 minutes away. Two weeks ago, my friends and I were even more pleased to discover that the Yale School of Management cafeteria was having its trial week, where it was handing out different kinds of food – for free! Being conditioned to seek out free food as graduate students, we headed there for lunch all week until the free food week was, alas, over. One of my favorite things that I had there was this sweet potato and poblano salad – this salad single-handedly changed my opinion about sweet potatoes. When combined with fresh, roasted ingredients that pack a ton of flavor, this salad by itself seemed like a meal and I couldn’t wait to replicate it at home. I finally got around to doing so this weekend, but I made a slight modification to the meal we had – to make it have more protein and be more hearty, I replaced the roasted red peppers with some black beans. I also crushed some baked tortilla chips on top of the final salad to give it some texture and crunch. If you’re a big fan of roasted red peppers, you can go ahead and add those as well. My main suggestion while preparing this dish would be to use the freshest ingredients possible – fresh peppers and fresh corn that you roast at home, as it really enhances the flavor, instead of giving a bland or salty flavor that might come with bottled or frozen ingredients.

Roasted Sweet Potato Poblano Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (I used 3 because I love a little extra)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 14 ounces of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt (to season)
  • Paprika (to season)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.  Line the baking sheet with foil.  Spray peppers with non-stick spray. Place on baking sheet 4 inches below broiler.  Roast peppers until skins are blistered and black, about 15 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other side.  Remove peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool. Alternatively, store the peppers in a paper bag and let them cool.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes and boil them for 10-15 minutes
  3. Set oven to bake at 375 degrees F.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, onions, olive oil, cumin, salt and half of the cilantro.  Mix well.  Spread sweet potatoes onto baking sheet; roast in oven until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Now, roast your corn. You can choose to do it whichever way you are familiar with – I just put the entire cob with the husks in the oven for about 20-30 minute or until about the corn is soft and you can smell it. You can also choose to grill it. Once the corn is roasted, wait for it to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, peel peppers, cut off their stems and remove seeds. Since the seeds of poblano peppers are extremely spicy, the level of heat you want in this dish should correlate with how careful you are in ensuring whether you want any seeds in your seeds.  Cut flesh into 1/2 inch squares.
  7. Remove sweet potatoes from oven, set aside until cool, about 10-20 minutes.
  8. Take the cooled corn cobs and remove the husks. Now remove the corn from the cob and toss it with some salt, lemon juice and paprika.
  9. In a bowl, combine roasted sweet potatoes, roasted onions, roasted poblano peppers, beans, the seasoned corn, lime juice, and remaining cilantro and season it with salt.  Toss gently.  Serve cold. Enjoy!

Pan-Fried Beans and Wilted Greens

I’ve never been a huge fan of greens – I detest most salads, and it usually takes a lot of cooking down greens to get me to eat them. This dish seems like a great compromise between a salad and a cooked dish to me. It barely takes 10 minutes to prepare and the crunch from the outside of the beans that get just a little crispy is great for the texture of this dish. I personally used baby spinach and arugula, but feel free to use any kind of greens, though I do like the slightly peppery, tangy flavor that arugula gives to this dish. It’s great to have on its own, or with bread, or even with poached eggs.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn. Gives 2 main servings or around 4-6 side dish servings

Ingredients

  • 6 oz  baby spinach
  • 6 oz  arugula
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can cannelloni  beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • Good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until they are very soft, for around 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the baby spinach and arugula, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.
  2. Warm another 1-2 teaspoons of oil, enough to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Add the beans and spread them into a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes without stirring. Stir and spread them out again.  Adjust the heat as needed to prevent burning the beans.
  3. Stir the onion-garlic- leaves mixture, cumin powder, paprika, turmeric and salt into the beans. Stir until the greens are completely wilted and taste tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Stir and taste. Add more lemon juice, salt, or other seasonings to taste.
Pan-Fried Beans with Wilted Greens

Pan-Fried Beans with Wilted Greens

Chickpea Couscous with Lemon and Cilantro

My first time making couscous and I can safely say that it is here to stay as one of my regular lunches! Easily made, light and delicious, it’s the perfect packed lunch for me, ensuring that I don’t fall asleep at work after eating a heavy lunch. I used instant couscous this time, but I’m planning to also experiment with Israeli couscous since I’ve heard better things about it. This one is a classic summery dish, combining the taste and aroma of chicken with a whiff of citrus.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup instant couscous
  • 3/4 of a 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric (1/2 for the couscous and 1/2 while stir-frying the veggies)
  • 2 tsp Spanish paprika (1 for the couscous and 1 while stir-frying the veggies)
  • Cumin, as per your own taste (I used 1 tsp)
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 (Turkish) bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Pour the chicken broth in a pot and heat. Stir in the lemon zest, paprika, parsley, turmeric, a bay leaf and cumin. Once it starts boiling, remove the pan from heat and pour in the couscous and salt. Stir to evenly moisten the couscous.

2. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the couscous hasn’t absorbed the water or still tastes crunchy after this time, cover and let it sit for a few more minutes.

3. In the meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed garlic, coriander, chickpeas, olives, and lemon juice to the pan and stir to combine. Put some additional paprika, turmeric and cumin, to taste.

4. To serve, fluff couscous grains with a fork and mix the contents of the pan with the couscous. Top with some cilantro for garnish!

Chickpea citrus couscous garnished with some cilantro

So how do you like to eat your couscous? What are you favorite toppings?

Chickpea Taco Salad

If you’re ever looking for a fast, easy, nutritious, and filling lunch, this one’s for you. It can be easily whipped up in 5-10 minutes and has a burst of flavor with that extra crunch. And a pinch of turmeric adds more color to this dish!

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a jalapeno pepper, chopped finely (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of parsley
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Baked taco shells (though others will also do)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, red onion, garlic, tomato, parsley, jalapeno pepper, lemon juice. Add some salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve with some scoop-shaped tacos

Chickpea Taco Salad – A healthy and filling lunch!