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!