Thursday, September 25, 2008

a virtuous farro salad for (y)our latest health regimen

The recipe that follows is particularly useful for detoxifying the body after too many pancakes. Look, it's so healthy that it has a vegetal glow no matter how many times I fiddle with the colors of my photo.


Farro is a nutty-tasting ancient Italian grain rich with fiber and vitamins. It's the only thing in this salad that I measured so don't fret if you have a big pepper instead of a small one, etc. — you probably won't have the exact same assortment of vegetables on hand so just choose whatever's fresh and brightly-colored and work with that. My only advice is to not take the healthy-health aspect of the salad too far by using beet greens. Yes, they are ultra healthy, but there's something sordid about their dirty-old-velvet texture, and they have so much iron I swear it's all I can taste, a ferric taste like vinegar that's been on the shelf way too long. I've tried hard to like them—in addition to the health benefits, there is the difficulty in throwing away such a voluminous pile of edible greenery—but I didn't realize how poorly my efforts were failing until it hit me that even a generous layer of cheese couldn't distract me from their flaws. I'm much happier with radish greens (remember the radish soup?) so that's what went into the salad.

One unresolved question about the salad: are yellow wax beans as healthy as green beans? I crave them every week during the summer so I'm curious about this. According to some sort of back-alley generic Wiki they are "high in vitamins A and C," but I couldn't find any authoritative answer and I think the Google is broken:

ear wax beans

No matter the answer, don't put those in your salad.

farro salad

serves 3 to 5 people depending on what, if anything, goes with it

1 large handful wax beans, tough ends snapped off
1 cup farro, rinsed under cold running water and drained
1 small bell pepper (orange is nice for color)
the juice of 1 lemon, divided
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 crisp apple, finely chopped (I used a Gala)
2 to 3 tablespoons thinly shaved flavorful hard cheese of your choice (I used pecorino)
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herb of your choice (I used oregano, but I can't think of any other that would be out-of-place here)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup chopped radish greens, or more if they're nice and fresh
4 radishes, finely sliced
2 or 3 scallions, finely chopped

Add a generous pinch of salt (about 1 teaspoon) to a medium-sized pot of water (at least 4 cups, maybe a little more) and bring it to a boil. Blanch the wax beans for just a minute or two and then pull them out with tongs and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Set them aside to drain. Add the farro to the pot and bring the water back to a boil. Adjust the heat and cook the farro at a simmer for approximately 25 minutes, or until it's tender. Drain the farro and set it aside to cool.

While the farro is cooking, roast the pepper over a gas burner until it's evenly blistered on the outside. (You'll need metal tongs or a long fork for this). Put the charred pepper in a small bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it soften for about 10 minutes; then remove the seeds and finely chop the pepper. (The skin of my pepper wasn't tough to begin with so I charred it lightly and left it on, but if you've got a large, crisp pepper you may wish to char it thoroughly and remove the skin before chopping it).

Whisk together half of the lemon juice, all of the olive oil, and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Dice the apple and toss it with the other half of the lemon juice to keep if from browning.

In a bowl large enough to hold everything, combine the farro with the remaining ingredients, pour the vinaigrette on top, and give it a few good stirs until everything is thoroughly combined and coated in the dressing.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t know on how I stumbled upon this cooking blog., All I know is that I’d better check out the archives for a good read. Ha-ha! Just droppin’ to say hi!
    Oh. You might want to check this out: for uhm...a different "menu."