Two weeks ago my girlfriends (the TBC’s- tall bitches club) were in town. When we all lived in SLC we got together every Friday morning for ‘Coffee Tawk’ or cocktail night with the husbands and kids a few times a month. Now days that is much harder considering one of us lives in France one lives in California and two of us live here. When I found out that this little reunion was going to happen I wanted to have the girls to my place for nibbles and cocktails, and I knew exactly what was going to be on the menu, my friend Moudi and Derek’s Tabouli. Moudi and Derek are the bad asses behind Laziz Foods, they make Hummus, Muhammara and Toum (a garlic spread) and periodically Moudi will share recipes for his favorite Lebanese dishes on their Facebook page, this Tabouli is one of them. I have made it a handful of times and everyone loves it!
I don’t know about you but within my circle of friends I have friends that are vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free/Paleo and some that are just fine with anything I make. I am picky myself so I don’t mind the challenge of coming up with menu’s that appeal to everyone. The food pictured above I have served at my last two cocktail nights to some of my friends who fall under one of these labels and needless to say there was something for everyone. I have a feeling these dishes will show up a lot during the summer when we can get everything fresh at the Farmers Market. Cheers to friends and cocktail night- Enjoy!
Tabouli- recipe straight from Laziz
3 bunches of flat Italian parsley ~ roughly 5 cups of parsley leaves (packed really well)
1/2 cup of lightly packed mint leaves
1 bunch green onions (5-6 sticks)
2 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup bulgur (check the bottom of the recipe for a gluten-free alternative)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper
Pluck the parsley leaves and discard the stems. Chop the leaves very finely, spending a good 5-7 minutes (you could use a food processor to ease the process if you are inclined).
Similarly, chop the mint leaves and green onions very finely, although the green onions may be a bit harder, and I find running them through a processor helps the process a lot.
Chop up the tomatoes very finely as well, and mix in the bowl with the parsley, mint, and green onions.
Soak the bulgur in hot water till puffed up (5 minutes), and discard of any excess water. Mix in with the salad.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix well throughout.
Serve with lettuce or just eat it with a fork.
NOTE: This will not keep in the fridge with good flavor past two days, so keep the dressing aside if you must, and mix as needed.
NOTE: for a gluten-free alternative to bulgur, cook 1/4 cup of quinoa and use instead. This does alter the taste a bit though.
Also pictured above:
Laziz Hummus drizzled with olive oil and garnished with a sprinkling of salt and pepper
Crackers with Beehive Cheese and Muhammara
ChickPea Flatbread (new recipe for me, I love it! My TBC Kim in France shared the recipe with me)
Parsley: One of my favorite recipes using parsley
Mint: Fun Spring recipe using mint
Chickpeas: This recipe uses ground chickpeas and Laziz
Cheese: Check out these recipes using Beehive cheese
Sometimes the best nutrition is hanging with your friends.
Do you like rice pudding? Until this week I didn’t, I am really funny about textures, soggy bread, tapioca, bloomed chia seeds- ick! I had always put rice pudding in the same category, until now.
I am a part of Slow Food Utah’s book club, what is great about our book club is that all the books we read are about food. Our last book was ‘An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace’ by Tamar Adler. When we meet for book club we usually bring dishes based on something featured in the book, this particular book had a number of recipes to choose from but for some reason the Rice Pudding was speaking to me. I have never made rice pudding and as I said I don’t even like rice pudding, but for some reason I was compelled to make it. I changed quite a bit of the recipe to appeal to my needs and what I had on hand, which is exactly the premise of the book. This book is so hopeful in learning how to make a meal using what you already have in your house or in other words, learning how to just wing it and not necessarily having to follow a recipe. This book teaches you to use what you have and even has recipes for when you mess something up, like we all do. Even those of us who blog and cook all the time mess up, but learning how to recover from those mess ups makes all the difference in your pocket-book as well as your confidence.
This rice pudding is delicious! It is warm, comforting and healthy which is always at the top of my list. I had everything on hand which was a major bonus, and even my friend Amber Billingsley head pastry chef at Vinto loved it. Amber is an award-winning pastry chef, had I known she was coming to book club I probably wouldn’t have brought dessert! I am however grateful she was there to help me. Also grateful that I got over my fear of rice pudding and added a new recipe to my list of how to use up what is leftover. Enjoy!
Black Rice Coconut Pudding w/Dates serves 4-8
2 1/2 c. leftover rice (I used Forbidden Rice)
3 c. canned coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
3/4 c. chopped medjool dates
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
few healthy grates of nutmeg
healthy pinch of real salt
*top with coconut butter (you can find this at Whole Foods or Good Earth, usually next to coconut oil)
1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium heavy bottom pot. Let it heat to just under a boil. As soon as you see the first bubbles, lower the heat to a quiet simmer.
2. Cook with the intention of the rice absorbing everything. (I kept mine a little juicy) After 50 min, it should be very pudding-y, with a tiny bit a swim left to it. Hot or cold it is delish!
Black Rice/ Forbidden Rice- The purple color is associated with anthocyanin antioxidants, which are also found in blueberries, but with more fiber and more vitamin E present than in the berries. Plus black rice even outdoes the healthful properties of brown. Here is another recipe using Black Rice.
Dates- Dates are one of the best natural sources of potassium, an essential mineral needed by the body to maintain muscle contractions, and smooth functioning of the heart muscles. As potassium does not get stored in the body, a regular consumption of dates will continually replenish the body and aid in maintaining a healthy nervous system and the right balance of the body’s metabolism. Calcium and magnesium present in the dates ensure healthy bone development and energy metabolism. Important vitamins, like vitamin A and a variety of B-complex vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, etc) help fight off many infections to maintain and develop a healthy body. Dates contain vital amino acids that aid in smooth digestion and the adequate nicotinic content in them helps cure intestinal disturbances. Here is another recipe for dates.
Coconut Milk- 1. helps maintain blood sugar 2. keeps skin and blood vessels flexible and elastic 3. aids in strong bones 4. helps prevent anemia 5. relaxes muscles and nerves 6. helps control weight 7. decreases risk of inflammation 8. helps lower blood sugar 9. helps maintain healthy immune system 10. promotes health of prostate gland. Here is another recipe using coconut milk.
When I was working on my last post I was surprised I hadn’t posted a recipe using radishes! When I was a kid I ate them straight up with just a sprinkling of salt. As an adult I have ventured out and braised them (delish), smeared them with butter and a sprinkling of salt and now this recipe, Radish Top Soup w/ Lemon. I was delighted to find this recipe in my new book ‘Vegetable Literacy’ by Deborah Madison (lovingly given to me by my friend Kim). Do to all the rain we are having this recipe is the perfect spring soup, it is light and has a bright flavor perfect for this time of year. This is also the perfect time to plant radishes in your garden if you haven’t all ready. Now you will have a reason to save those tops and make this soup. I served this wonderful soup along side baked Sea Bass over wilted Arugula. Enjoy!
Radish Top Soup w/ Lemon serves 6
4-8 cups radish tops (I used the tops off two bunches of radishes)
1 T. butter or olive oil (I used ghee)
1 onion sliced (I used half a large yellow onion and one large leek)
1 large russet potato (about 1lb.) scrubbed, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
4 c. water or chicken stock (I used homemade veggie stock)
1/4 c. parsley (not in recipe but I added it just at the end for color and bright flavor)
juice of lemon
salt and pepper
few tablespoons thinly julienned radishes
1. Sort through the radish tops, tearing off and discarding any thick stems that don’t have much leafy material and discarding any leaves that are less than vibrant.
2. Melt butter in a wide soup pot over medium heat. Add onion slices, lay the potato slices over (I salted and peppered just a bit) them and cook several minutes without disturbing them while the pan warms up. Then give the onion and potato slices a stir, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, giving the vegetables an occasional shove around the pan. The pan should take on a nice brown glaze from the onions. Add two teaspoons salt and liquid of choice and bring to a boil, scraping the pan to dislodge any of the glaze.
3. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender and falling apart, about 15 min. Add radish greens (I sautéed my radish greens in 1 teaspoon of ghee and 1 teaspoon of Toum a garlic condiment, salt and pepper just a bit, then didn’t add them until it was time to puree) to the pot and cook long enough for them to wilt and go from bright to darker green, which takes just a few minutes.
4. Let the soup cool slightly, then puree it, greens and all (this is when I added the sautéed radish tops, juice of one lemon and 1/4 c. parsley) leaving it a bit rough if you like some texture or making it smooth if you prefer, then return soup to the pot. Check for seasoning. Ladle soup into bowls and stir in a spoonful of yogurt into each bowl (I didn’t do this). Scatter the julienned radishes over the top. (I added a drizzle of olive oil to finish.)
Radish Greens- Radish leaves contain almost six times the vitamin C of the root and are also a good source of vitamins. In India the greens are used for vitamin C deficiency, a diuretic, a as expectorant, to treat gastric discomfort and as a laxative. Read more about radishes in my last post, The Best Bang for your Bite- Spring Edition.
Those of us who live in the SLC can probably, safety say it’s SPRING! We know not to get over zealous, we could possibly get snow until June! It’s true folks, but we’ll take the fact that we have had 70 degree weather as a sign that it is time to stop hibernating and get out and see each others faces again.
Also, it’s time to start planting seeds in our gardens which is exactly what we did after our Easter brunch with the family. Working out in the garden got me thinking about this post, I have been getting a lot of request to share what is in season. I did a post on like this for Winter veggies and thought it was time for a Spring version. Thanks to my TBC (Tall Bitches Club) Kim I have this new BEAUTIFUL book on vegetables, one of the coolest books and gift. ‘Vegetable Literacy’ by Deborah Madison. I’ll be using this book for info on the veggies below. Enjoy!
1. Artichokes- Artichokes are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, endowed with vitamins C,K and B6 and with such minerals as magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and phosphorus. Artichoke leaves also contain an extract called cynarin which is the basis of herbal medicines that are used for treating the liver, gall bladder and kidneys, reduces high cholesterol, lowers high blood pressure and other conditions.
2. Arugula- Arugula is in the cruciferous family (think cabbage). Like other cruciferous veggies arugula contains a group of anticancer compounds know as glucosinolates. These compounds exert antioxidant activity, but more importantly they are potent simulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. Like other greens, arugula is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, such a carotenes and chlorophyll.
3. Asparagus- Asparagus is low in calories and sodium but high in folate and is a significant source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and B6, potassium, and thiamine. Also a great source of fiber.
4. Beets- Beets are LOADED with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C, they are a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and iron. Their leaves are packed with even more nutritional goodies, such as choline and folate. Today beet juice is thought to cleanse the kidneys and gall bladder among other things.
5. Chard and other greens- Chard and greens are nutritionally awesome, it possesses vitamins K, A, C, B and E, the M minerals, magnesium and manganese, along with potassium and iron. Chard has high fiber but almost no calories.
Food: Tortilla Soup
6. Fennel- Fennel helps sweeten the breath and aids in digestion. They are regarded as a purifier, as the base for an effective cough syrup and as a repellent for fleas. Fennel provides eaters with vitamin C, folate and potassium.
7. Green onions/scallions- Strong tasting onions are the ones who that prevent blood clotting, lower the heart rate, benefit the stomach and provide us with a long list of vitamins, B, C,and E, and disease fighting quercetin in amounts that far exceed those found in other extremely good-for-you veggies.
8. Mint- Mint contains a compound known as perillyl alcohol that has been shown to inhibit the growth or formation of cancer. It also contains the substance rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant that blocks the production of allergy-producing leukotrienes.
9. Parsley- Parsley is high in vitamin C, A and the more elusive K. It is also a good source of antioxidant nutrients, rich in folate, good for the heart, and according to one study, helps prevent some forms of arthritis.
Food: Pasta alla Friends
10. Peas/pea greens- Peas fall into the Legume family which are of special importance: they are among the oldest cultivated plants, they have nurtured people all over the world, they’ve often taken the place of meat, and they contain some of the attributes we’re obsessed with today, namely, low to moderate glycemic index number, a high proportion of protein, vitamins and minerals; and fiber-lots of fiber. Plus, they are in some instances, delicacies (consider a bowl of fresh peas).
11. Radishes- Radishes are a member of the cruciferous family (cabbage), the radish shares the cancer-protective actions of it cousins broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. They help maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver and improve digestion.
Food: No recipe- I guess I know what’s next on the list!
12. Spinach- The fresher and the greener and more lively, the more vitamin C spinach contains. Good source of vitamins A and K, manganese and folate in great amounts, the first two exceeding daily values by a long shot.
Food: Ravioli Salad
Last fall my sister came for a visit and I wanted to make her a special meal and an even more special dessert. I made a version of this pie with a traditional graham cracker crust and caramel that I made by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk (still in its sealed can mind you) for 2 1/2 hours! Plus heavy whipping cream for a topping. I knew this would be a hit with my sis, the last pie I made her was a chocolate tofu pie and she ain’t down with no tofu pie. I can’t wait till she visits again so I can make her this new version, don’t tell her but it’s vegan and gluten-free and if you ask me better than the one we had last fall. I have been working out this recipe in my head for the last six months and then one Monday morning in yoga during savasana (corpse pose for those of you who aren’t into yoga) it all fell into place. I couldn’t be happier to share this recipe and hopefully some new ideas (caramel sauce made from dates, and coconut whip cream) with you, and most of all I can’t wait to make it for my non tofu eating sis! Enjoy!
Coconut Banana Caramel Cream Pie serves 8
3/4 c. organic thick rolled oats (gluten-free)
3/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (I buy mine in the bulk section)
3/4 c. walnuts
6 T. coconut oil, melted
3 banana’s, sliced (for filling)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the oats, walnuts and shredded coconut in the food processor, pulse until you get a nice crumble.
2. Pour the crumble into the pie pan, add the melted coconut and with a fork mix until well combined. Smooth out and press up the sides.
3. Bake for 22 min. Take out of oven (the center of the crust might puff up, don’t worry) and let cool 15 min. With the bottom of a measuring cup smooth out the crust again, press lightly up the sides and then place the crust in the fridge for at least one hour (I think mine was in there for 2), it will firm up and be ready for the rest of the ingredients.
Salted Caramel Dip/Sauce- politely borrowed from My New Roots
2 cups pitted Medjool dates
¼ cup raw nut or seed butter (almond, cashew, sesame tahini, sunflower) (I prefer almond butter)
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (I use organic vanilla extract)
soaking water as needed
1. Soak dates for at least 4 hours in water.
2. Drain dates, reserving the soak water.
3. Add dates to a food processor along with all other ingredients, except for soaking water. Blend on high until dates are smooth. Add soaking water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached (for a sauce to pour or drizzle, add more water).
4. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to a week.
Coconut Whip Cream-
1 c. canned coconut milk, chilled (save the leftovers for a smoothie OR if you really like whip cream use all of it and adjust sweetness)
1 T. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Pour the canned chilled coconut milk into a bowl (I used my kitchen aid mixer with the whip attachment). Start to whip. When it starts to firm up stop machine and add maple syrup and vanilla. Whip again until you’ve reached desired consistency. (I like mine firm but still light and fluffy, use your best judgement it will firm up more in the fridge).
Toasted Coconut for topping-
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1. Place the coconut in a dry saute pan over medium low heat, lightly toast stirring often. Careful not to burn, set aside.
1. Prepared crust
2. Sliced bananas
3. Salted Caramel Sauce
4. Coconut Whip Cream
5. Toasted Coconut
Place in the fridge for at least an hour for all the flavors to meld together, cut with a very sharp knife and serve immediately.
Coconut oil- Coconut oils medium-chain fats are easily absorbed and preferentially used as an energy source, their burning actually increases the body’s metabolic rate. Coconut oil contains a fat called lauric acid also found in breast milk, lauric acid is converted into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral, antibacterial destroyer of disease-causing organisms.(Canned coconut milk- buy whole, not low-fat. Low fat coconut milk has most of the medium-chain fats removed. Choose a brand that has no additives.)
Dates- Dates are rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. An alkaline food and an excellent source of easily digested carbohydrates.(Eating local is key in a holistic diet, but eating regionally is also important depending on where you live. In Utah we don’t have a year round growing season so eating within our region fills in those gaps. Dates are in season in California during this time of year and I was lucky enough to be gifted 2 lbs of them. This was the perfect recipe to use some of them on.)
Oats- Oats provide and abundance of antioxidants and lignans which help protect against cancer and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Rolled oats, which are minimally processed are slightly less beneficial than steel-cut or whole oat groats.
Tamari Glazed Bok Choy- serves 2
2 large or 4 medium baby bok choy, cut into quarters
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
2 T. mirin
2 T. organic tamari (gluten-free)
1 T. pure maple syrup/ local honey
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. ume vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. coconut oil
Cilantro and scallions- garnish
1. Start by heating a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil and let it melt. While you are waiting for the oil to melt combine the garlic, ginger, mirin, tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil, vinegar and cornstarch in a bowl, mix and set aside.
2. When oil has melted place the bok choy cut side down in the oil and cook for three minutes. Turn and brown on the other cut side for another three minutes. Rotate one more time and cook for another three minutes.
3. At the end of those last three minutes pour the sauce over the bok choy and let the sauce simmer and get thick, just a few minutes. Once the sauce is thick pull of the heat. Serve immediately!!!
I have made this dish more times than I can count. The first time I made this for Billy he thought it was the best thing he had ever eaten! It was a cold snowy day and I needed something warm to hold us over until dinner, I served it over rice and it warmed us from the inside out. Now he request this dish all the time, it surprises me what dishes he’ll like and I was shocked by this one, but happy it was a hit. This is a great dish to try bok choy if you have never tried it before. Serve it with brown rice, quinoa, fish, chicken the possibilities are endless. Also, right now it the perfect time to start seeds for bok choy in the house to transplant into the garden come May! I got seeds for bok choy at the Downtown Pop Up Farmers Market this weekend, I can’t wait to have some growing in my garden this year. ENJOY!
Bok Choy- Cabbage is a nutrient dense, low-calorie food providing an excellent source of many nutrients especially vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, calcium, magnesium and manganese. The cabbage family of vegetables contains more phytochemicals with demonstrable anticancer properties than any other vegetable family. Consistently the higher the intake of cabbage-family vegetables the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung and breast cancer.
For another fabulous, nutrient dense, powerhouse of a recipe try my Roasted Brussels Sprout and Romanesco Soup
Not Your Mama’s Meatballs- makes 24
1/2 c. bread crumbs (I usually have a bag of bread crumbs from various loafs of bread that didn’t get finished, traditionally these are made with white bread with the crust)
1/2 c. homemade almond milk (traditional these are made with regular milk)
1 1/4 c. Pecorino cheese
salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack over the top.
2. In a small bowl soak the bread crumbs with the milk. In a large mixing bowl place the beef and cheese, season with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of fresh cracked pepper. Next add the soaked bread crumbs, mix all the ingredients together lightly with your hands.
3. With a small ice cream scoop, scoop out some of the meatball mixture. With your hands roll the mixture between your palms into a round ball and place them on the lined baking sheet. Continue until the bowl is empty.
4. Drizzle with a little olive oil, place the meatballs in the oven for 20-25 minutes or till browned on the edges.
My amazing grandmother Polly passed away 2 years ago and this last weekend was her birthday. Polly was a tiny BUT mighty little fire-ball of a LADY. She was fiercely independent and loved working so she could take the bus and get ‘out and about’ (she couldn’t sit still to save her life). She was the kind of grandma who made each of us think we were her favorite, I miss her beyond words.
When I called my mom to ask if it was okay to share this recipe she wanted to make sure that my great-grandma and my grandma Polly got all the credit. All the woman in my family make these Italian meatballs called “Perpets” and I think the only men who have had these meatballs are attached to one of these woman. Growing up these were always an amazing treat and you knew just by the smell of the cheese and oil what was about to happen to your taste buds. The pecorino cheese in these meatballs give them a very distinct flavor. Pecorino cheese is a sheep milk’s cheese and is a little tangier than Parmesan, they make these meatball’s what they are. Perpets are a family tradition, Polly’s mom taught her, Polly taught my mom and my mom taught my sister and me. They are a very special family treat and I am so glad my mom was okay with me sharing the recipe with all of you.
These Perpets are traditionally made with white bread and milk and fried in olive oil, this is probably why I don’t make them that often. So I decided to use my multri-grain bread crumbs and homemade almond milk, I also thought I would bake them instead of frying them. They turned out great! I served them over spaghetti squash with Pasta all Vodka sauce (minus the bacon) and garnished the dish with fresh parsley, pecorino cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Feel free to use them anyway way you want.
*All I can say on this recipe is the beef is local and grass-fed.
*I am happy that I was able to stay true to the roots of this recipe, but use healthier ingredients and a healthier method of cooking and get the same great flavor I’ll know forever.
*The only man I have made these for is my sweetie, make them for your sweetie and see what happens.
I had a conversation last week that really has me thinking about comparisons. Comparing ourselves to others, comparing our current selves to our past or future selves, comparing our friends with one another, etc. This all started when a client compared how I currently spend my time devoted to food now as a married woman without children versus how I would spend my time (or lack thereof) if I were to have a child in the future.
I was raised in a household with two parents who loved to cook, but they both had full-time jobs, so during the week we ate dinners that were quick and easy to throw together and on the weekend they had more time to play in the kitchen. I have a very busy life myself and my week’s closely reflect the same type of time that my parents had to devout to preparing meals. The hope is that I will be able to do the same if and when I have a family because I make sure that eating healthy is a priority in my life. If you develop healthy eating habits and routines it will become an automatic practice in your life no matter how much time you have.
This recipe is an example of needing to get something on the table during the week when I am busy. Lucky for me I had all of these ingredients but the bread, and lucky for me I was at Harmon’s when my friend Moudi gave me the idea for this dinner. Some of the best dinners are quick and easy to throw together with a little help from your friends. Do what feels best to you, no need to compare. Enjoy!
Hummus Bruschetta serves 2
Harmon’s Sourdough Bread, sliced and toasted (4 slices)
Laziz Hummus (Harmon’s, Liberty Heights Fresh)
1 onion, sautéed slowly in a little ghee until caramelized, season with salt and pepper
2 handfuls arugula, I throw this in with the onions at the end and the residual heat wilt them
Sunbridge Sunflower Sprouts (Whole Foods, Good Earth)
sliced avocado (optional)
your favorite balsamic vinegar, we have some we brought back from Italy that is thick and syrupy
1. Slather the toasted bread with hummus, lay avocado slices (if using) on top of hummus
2. Divide the onion and arugula mixture among the hummus slathered bread
3. Top with sunflower sprouts and drizzle with balsamic vinegar
What we think is just as important as what we eat- Food for Thought
1. Be impeccable with you word, 2. Don’t take anything personally, 3. Don’t make assumptions, 4. Always do your best (Thank you Don Miguel Ruiz)
“Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy” Theodore Roosevelt (Thank you Joslyn for posting this, Billy and I loved it)
If you follow me on Instagram you saw that I was gifted a whole bunch of citrus. My long time clients Erin and Trey were nice enough to share the over abundance their family had brought them from California. I couldn’t wait to get to the weekend to put it to good use. I had some Brussels Sprouts hanging out in the refrigerator as well as Farro that I brought back from Italy when we were there for the Slow Food International Conference, the perfect fixins for a salad. What I love about this salad is the light flavor with a hearty texture. The Brussels sprouts are raw but when pulled away from the pack are delicate to eat, if you have never tried Farro you must give it a try, it has a surprisingly chewy texture. We can’t forget about the blood oranges, I feel like these jewels are the beets of the citrus family. They stain your hands from their hue, and they can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Nature is so good to us, we must take advantage of our season’s bounty, that is just what I did with this dish. It will warm you like a winter dish but get your taste buds ready for the lighter flavors of spring. Enjoy!
Farro, Brussels Sprout and Blood Orange Salad serves 6-8
1 c. Farro
3 c. Brussels Sprout leaves
4-6 small blood oranges, segmented and juice reserved
3/4 c. each cilantro and parsley leaves (pull the leaves off the stem and leave leaves whole)
1/2 c. pistachios’, toasted and chopped
10 green olives (I buy Cerignola from Caputo’s Market, they are mild in flavor)
1 T. pomegranate syrup (I bought this at Black Cherry Market-great place for Mediterranean foods, good friends of our family. If you don’t have this use balsamic vinegar or Slide Ridge Honey Vinegar, I have both but thought the pomegranate syrup would add some additional color as well as sweetness.)
1/3 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Toast the Farro in a wide saucepan over medium heat, watch it so it doesn’t burn. When nice and toasted add 1 1/2 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt, place lid on pot, bring to a boil and then turn down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. When done, drain in a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess water. Place in a bowl big enough to toss all the ingredients together.
2. Prepare the Brussels sprouts, cut off the rough ends and lightly start pulling the leaves away from the pack, it may take 10-12 Brussels sprouts to get 3 c. of leaves and you will have tiny little sprouts let over- save those for something else.
3. Segment the blood oranges, carefully cut the rind off the oranges and then over a bowl to reserve the juice (about 1/3 c.) start to remove the orange segments. Place the segments in one bowl and the juice in another.
4. Whisk olive oil, reserved blood orange juice, pomegranate syrup and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
5. In the bowl with the Farro toss in the Brussels sprout leaves, chopped toasted pistachio’s, chopped olives, cilantro and parsley leaves. Pour on the dressing and toss lightly. Arrange the tossed salad in a pretty serving dish and place blood oranges on top. If using feta break it up the and sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.
Farro- Farro is essentially a form of Spelt. Spelt’s cultivation is thought to have begun sometime during the mid- to late Neolithic (Stone Age), 6000 to 5000 B.C.E. an area that spans parts of modern Iraq, Iran and Jordan, making this one of the earliest crops grown in the Western World! Farro is an Italian staple grain, so when buying look for Farro but know spelt can be used in its place. The texture will be different. Farro is not labeled ‘organic’ but historically has been known to have not been sprayed due to the fact that it will not survive if treated with harmful sprays. Farro/Spelt is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, complete protein and fiber. Spelt is a good alternative for those allergic to wheat. The gluten found in Spelt is more fragile than that found in wheat, so it is more easily digested.
Brussels Sprouts- 1 c. of Brussels Sprouts contains more than 4 grams of fiber, they are an excellent food to reduce appetite, promote bowel regularity and prevent colon cancer. Plus, Brussels Sprouts are so en vogue these days, I remember being a kid and scared of those nasty buggers- now we eat them weekly when they are in season.
Blood Oranges- We all know oranges are great for their high vitamin C content but did you know that vitamin C and flavonoids are important for the immune system, lens of eyes, adrenal glands and reproductive organs as well as the connective tissue of our body, such as the joints, gums and ground substance. The consumption of oranges and orange juice has been shown to protect against cancer and help viral infections. Yum!