As I have often mentioned, I get a lot of ideas from the many magazines Kirk has found for me on the cheap (or free). Whenever I get the blahs of feeling uninspired or more “Can I create anything new?” I go check the post office box and hope there is a stack of magazines waiting for me. Flipping through the February 2013 issue of Family Circle, I saw a recipe for Winter Grain and Roasted Vegetable Salad on page 106. Huh, who knew Family Circle could have actual healthy meals? When I was a kid, reading my mom’s issues, it was always cream of soup casseroles and cakes made with cups of shortening. An entire article of recipes using whole grains? Vegetables? Woah. Hehe. They have gotten with the times. Although I have to wonder how many women have husbands who will eat this way. I know I am lucky…..
I had a huge mess of beets with greens in the frig. I had goat cheese. I had farro. Oops, no wheat bulgur. That is OK. Don’t much care for it. So I double up the farro. Used carrots instead of parsnips. Carrots are a fraction of the cost and I likes them better anyways! Wandered out into my snow-covered garden and plucked fresh rosemary. Does this dish take a lot of prep? Yeah. Oh well. No 30 minute wonder on the table here. And that is OK.
Oh, and I finally figured out something in the whole-grain world. I have used emmer wheat quite a bit (which is what farro is) and always wondered why my recipes took so much longer to cook than called for in the cookbooks. Well…..pretty simple. Farro, just like barley, is sold in 2 ways. Pearled and whole. If you buy in bulk, as I do, the farro (and barley) is cheapest in whole – and often all you find. It is also the most healthy, with the bran intact. But, as with brown rice, you pay for that in increased cooking time. From 20 minutes for pearled to 40 to 60 minutes for whole. Apparently when farro wasn’t popular, it was nearly always sold as pearled. Oh. Costco, for example, is carrying Nature’s Earthly Choice in 3 pound bags for cheap. It is pearled though. This recipe used pearled or quick-cooking farro.
Let that not be an issue! Use what you have or can find. If using whole, soak it overnight, drain and then proceed, giving it more cooking time, checking every 10 minutes after simmering for 30. Figure it will take 30 to 50 minutes to cook, then proceed (you will need a bit more water as well. Better to drain off than run out, I’d double it).
PS: It is delicious! And somehow, Farro is so much sexier sound than wheat berries 😉
Farro and Roasted Vegetables
- 1 large bunch beets, with leaves and stems intact
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced into 1″ pieces
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1½ tsp dried thyme, divided
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
- 1½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1½ cups pearled or quick-cooking farro (see above)
- 1 onions, peeled and diced
- ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 -3 ounces soft goat cheese
Preheat oven to 425º.
Set a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet, along with another piece of foil that covers half the pan, fold up the sides on the small piece.
Trim beet greens off, set aside. Trim beet bottoms and scrub beets under running water. Dry with a paper towel, quarter them. Toss beets with 1 Tbsp oil and ¼ tsp of the salt. Place beets on the large sheet of foil, place a sprig of rosemary and sprinkle ½ tsp thyme. Roll/pinch foil closed to make a packet. Place on one side of the pan.
Toss the carrots in a Tablespoon oil and ¼ tsp salt, place in a single layer on the smaller sheet of foil.
Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until beets are fork tender (remove carrots earlier if needed). Let rest until cool enough to handle, then scrape peel off with a small knife, discard. Cut into bite size pieces, place in a bowl with the carrots and any pan juices. Chill until needed or use warm.
In a tall saucepan add the farro and 5 cups water, cover and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes (if by chance you have instant farro from Trader Joe’s, check at 10, it is pre-cooked). Drain, rinse and shake off, set aside.
Strip beet greens from steams, wash leaves and spin dry. Rinse and shake off stems. Chop stems and roughly chop or tear greens.
Heat a large skillet over medium, add 1 Tablespoon oil and beet stems, sauté for about 6 minutes. Add in onion, cooked vegetables (if refrigerated) remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, and 2 tsp diced fresh rosemary, sauté for 5 minutes. Add in beet greens, cook until wilted, season with ¼ tsp salt.
Add in hot farro, gently toss. Stir in last Tablespoon oil, pecans and pepper. Taste for salt.
Crumble the goat cheese over each serving.
Vegan Option: Simply leave goat cheese off and enjoy.
Serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite.