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Farro + Roasted Garlic + Mushrooms

I'm obsessed with farro lately. It's a super grain - the original grain - and I can't get enough.

It all started with an insanely addictive Kale Caesar Salad that I stumbled upon at Market Hall. They makes vats of the stuff and sell out on a daily basis. There have been weeks where I've had to stop myself from going every single day.

If you're craving a crunchy green salad with a twist - this is a good bet and here's a great recipe.

However, if you're looking for something more robust, with the ability to stand alone or accompany your favorite roasted meats - this is a really tasty and EASY option.

I love how the nutty, crunchy flavors of the farro blend with the earthy mushrooms and sweet mellow garlic. And for those of you with your hands on your hips, loudly declaring you hate mushrooms - please try them one more time. I'm like a broken record with this one but I'll say it again - roasting vegetables changes EVERYTHING.

Farro + Roasted Garlic + Mushrooms

Ingredients:

1 lb sliced mixed mushrooms i.e. button, porcini, portobello

10 - 15 cloves of peeled garlic

2 cups of dry farro

5 T olive oil

2 t balsamic vinegar

half bunch of chopped Italian parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Set oven to 450

Spread sliced mushrooms and garlic on oiled baking sheets leaving lots of room - if they are too crowded or salted during cooking they will release too much water - you want them crunchy not soggy. Roast 30-40 minutes or brown on the edges.

Cook farro according to directions, drain and cool. (I always boil grains, pastas etc in chicken or veggie stock vs plain water).

Combine mushrooms and farro and allow to cool. Whisk oil, vinegar, parsley and salt and pepper together and pour over mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Spicy Honey-Glazed Parsnips

Fall is here and to me that means bring on the fab boots, the festive month of October and the glorious array of roasted vegetables!

I can't believe how the simple technique of roasting something for 30-45 minutes in a hot oven transforms even the lowliest of roots. Not that I'm calling parsnips lowly, but let's face it, they are a very distance second to that other root vegetable - the almighty potato.

It's recipes like this one, with the peppy sauce, creamy insides and caramelized outside, that could improve that ranking. One of the reasons I love roasting pretty much any vegetable, other than the transforming flavor part, is side-dish preparation does not get any easier. As long as you remember to set a timer you cannot screw this up.

There's nothing wrong with the tried-and-true combo of veggies + olive oil + sea salt + herbs - it literally pairs with everything. But if you're looking to shake it up a bit, this delicious combo from bon appetit should do the trick.

If you need more inspiration to get your roasting on, check out this tasty list. And if you're really smitten with parsnips and need another excuse to cook them - try this one.

Happy Fall.

Spicy Honey-Glazed Parsnips

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into 3” lengths, halved, or quartered if large
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (This is a good place to throw in a pinch of a fancy sea salt + peppercorn + herb combo)
  • 2 chiles de árbol, crushed, or ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I substituted Juliet Mae ancho chili pepper because it's what I had on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss parsnips and oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast parsnips, tossing occasionally, until tender and deep golden brown in spots, 35–40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat chiles de árbol, butter, vinegar, and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.

Drizzle chile-honey butter over parsnips and toss to coat, garnish with chopped herbs - parsley or chives will work. Serve immediately!

Spring Greens + Barley Salad

If I appear obsessed with grain salads, it's true, I am. But before I move onto the next best thing, I need to share this recipe.

I promise it's the best one yet - Springtime in a bowl! The barley makes it plenty filling but adding chicken or salmon makes it dinner. You could also substitute farro or pearl cous cous.

I started with this tasty recipe I spotted in the SF Chronicle and made a few tweaks. I used barley because that's what I had on hand, English peas because I didn't have time to shell and blanch fava beans and a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette because it kicks up the bright flavors big time - especially compared to just olive oil and vinegar.

Spring Greens + Barley Salad

  • 2 cups cooked barley (I like the quick-cook brand from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups frozen peas rinsed and thawed
  • 2-3 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1/2 lb fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 bunch green onions sliced into 1/4 pieces
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil 
  • 1-2 T lemon zest for garnish

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Blend first 5 ingredients thoroughly and then slowly add oil to emulsify.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl or roomy platter, garnish with lemon zest and enjoy!

Roasted Kale + Quinoa Salad

I'm sure you don't need another quinoa recipe. By now you've probably tried dozens of salads, side dishes and yummy concoctions of "the world's healthiest food".

But hey, anything I can get a roomful of veggie-resisting 2nd graders to slam faster than you can say "nutrient rich" deserves a post right?

I keep a box, or five, on hand at all times and I like the Trader Joe's brand. It's super easy and fast to cook - WAY faster than brown or wild rice, and the perfect vehicle for your favorite veggies. It tastes great hot, cold or room temperature and keeps very well in the fridge for that last-minute lunch, and it even has a few grams of protein - a super food indeed.

This salad only has 4 ingredients - 6 counting the lemon zest and vinaigrette. But there's no reason to stop there - roasted butternut squash or cauliflower, legumes, nuts, grilled meats, and cheese would all make fantastic additions.

Eat your veggies!

Roasted Kale + Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 1 bunch of fresh kale trimmed, sliced into 2 inch pieces and roasted
  • 1/2 cup of dried cherries - cranberries would work too
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, parsley or cilantro - a mixture of all 3 if you like
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup Meyer lemon vinaigrette

Cook the quinoa per the box instructions. Toss kale in olive oil, spread out on 2 baking sheets and roast for 20-40 minutes in 350 degree oven. Keep a close watch as you do not want the kale to brown. Allow both to cool slightly, prepare the vinaigrette, toss all ingredients together and finish with lemon zest.

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend first 5 ingredients thoroughly and then slowly add oil to emulsify.