03 May 2016

Turn to the pantry

I already think a lot about frugality as it relates to cooking and maxing out whole ingredients, but when I sat down to interview this chef last week for an upcoming piece in next month's  Industry magazine, my horizons were even further expanded. He's on a frontier with a wave of chefs who are reducing waste, pickling, canning and renewing. Part of his mission, besides making ketchup, vinegar and anything else he can, is shifting focus to not always be meat-centric. Not meaning it's not there. But once and awhile, isn't it nice to turn to the pantry?

I had some farro in the pantry and Italy's rustic staple  is a great swap for quinoa. Not that there's anything wrong with quinoa. Or barley, for that matter. Love to them both. But, chewy, nutty and hearty farro is an ideal Italian grain (made from Emmer or Spelt wheat) to make it's way into a warm-weather salad and it's definitely having a moment. With $13 appearances on a chic NYC cafe lunch menu, I think it's worth tossing into the home game. I like grains like quinoa, barley and farro cooked through, not over or under-done, cooled, and mixed with zippy dressings and lots of add-ins. Serve this farro salad bulked out with roasted veggies, avocado, cheese, nuts, or even leftover meat, but I promise you won't even need it.

Freestyle Farro Salad Recipe

1/2 cup semi-pearled or pearled farro
1 1/2 cups liquid (half chicken broth/half water is my preference)
Pinch salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 bay leaf

1/2 Lemon
Few Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp maple or honey
1 clove clove garlic, grated
2-3 Minced scallions
Handful fresh chopped herbs

In a saucepan heat the oil, add the grain and stir for a minute. Add pinch of salt and liquid and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, lid ajar, for 35 minutes, give or take. Test by tasting a kernel for desired chewiness. Let the pot sit 5-10 minutes on the stove off the heat. Remove to cool. Whisk oil, garlic, lemon and honey with pinch salt and pepper. Transfer farro to a bowl and toss with dressing, salt and pepper to taste, and scallions and herbs. Allow to sit and meld. Serve room temp. 

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