I think I got a little spoiled with being on break from school. We had good, homecooked dinners most weeknights and some days on the weekend. I had time to catch up (rather stay up to date as I had too much time to get behind) on my Food Network shows and not get too behind on my magazine reads. We had free weekends, although I welcome the busy weekends because they’re spent with family and friends. But now school is back in session and already five weeks in.
Matter of fact, school is almost over. Hard to believe, but I’m 5 weeks away from a culinary ‘degree’. I think, after having graduated from 3 colleges, that I’ll call it quits with the schooling. Oh, and the loanage.
With only one weeknight of cooking, and the fact that it’s officially well into summer (finally), I’ve been more inclined to whip up some somewhat simple meals. You know, like panzanella salad. And this here, made with a new delicious friend of mine, farro.
I’m sure many of you may have never cooked with farro. But you should. It is a great addition to salads or even grilled veggies. A small bag’ll cost you about 8 buckaroonies but you’ll get many uses out of it.
It’s a rich, nutty grain (from Italy – don’t you just love those Italians?!) with many admirable qualities: higher in protein and fiber than many grains, a great source of complex carbohydrates, and supposedly a type of carbohydrate that can aid the body’s immune system. Farro is definitely a keeper and one you can assuredly take home to meet your parents. In fact, when you try it, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
I’m sharing a great starter recipe that utilizes a seasonal favorite, green beans. My mom will be so proud to know I eat more than a no thank you serving of beans. This dish reminds me of the panzanella salad – entirely flexible. You’ll notice I used those shredded carrots again. And definitely use marjoram rather than skipping this seldom-used herb. It has a lovely piney perfumey citrus taste and pairs well with the goat cheese. But if you insist, substitute oregano and use a bit less.
Farro & Veggie Salad w/ Goat Cheese
Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2009; Serves 4
This is a great weeknight meal. You can even prepare the salad in advance since it’s served cold. And in a pinch, I’m sure a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken would be just fine 🙂
1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
3 T EVOO, divided
8 oz boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut to 1 1/2″ pieces
2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (~2 ears corn)
3 green onions, thinly sliced (~3/4 c)
1/2 c carrot, thinly sliced
1 T minced fresh marjoram
1/2 t kosher salt
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T minced shallot
1 t Dijon mustard
2 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cook farro in medium saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain; cool.
Meanwhile, heat 1 T oil in medium skillet over med-hi. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. You can also grill the chicken, which is what I did for extra flavor. Cool and cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes. Cook green beans in saucepan of boiling salted water about 4 minutes and drain, rinsing with cold water. Pat dry.
Mix farro, chicken, and green beans in large bowl. Add corn, green onions, carrot.
Combine remaining 2 T oil, marjoram, 1/2 t salt in small bowl. Press w/ back of spoon to release flavor from marjoram. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, mustard. Pour over salad in bowl and toss to coat. Season w/ s&p.