Farro with Mushroom and Thyme

This recipe hails from a 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I made it shortly after first buying a bag of farro. In the Cook’s recipe they cook the farro as part of the recipe, in only 20 minutes. Ha! I found it took twice that time to get to an al dente texture. I now prepare my farro in advance, store it in the fridge for a day or two and have it ready to go.

Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced evenly
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 cups prepared farro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and thyme; sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables have started to brown. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the sherry to the pan and scrap up any browned bits (aka fond). Cook until the pan is almost dry, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the farro and toss until the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the farro is heated through.
  4. Stir in the parsley and vinegar. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Notes:
I’ve had good success by microwaving mushrooms in a covered bowl for 2-3 minutes on high. Drain the liquid, add to the hot fat and saute until browned, another 2 minutes. It can save 10 minutes or so on the dish.

Advertisements

Sauteed Baby Bok Choy with Rice Wine Vinegar

I bought baby bok choy at the local farm stand with no clear idea of what I was going to do with it. I had a vague idea for a stir fry with a bunch of other things to fill out the dish. Instead I ended up using it as stand alone side dish at our Saturday weekly night dinner. I knew I wanted something more than just greens braised with garlic so I turned to the pantry for something different. The bottles of vinegar caught my eye and I went from there.

Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage.

Sauteed Baby Bok Choy with Rice Wine Vinegar
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1.5 lbs. baby bok choy
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Trim the bottoms and then quarter the base of the bok choy. You can tear the leaves off as well if you like. Rinse well and then spin in a salad spinner until dry.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the bok choy and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes until the greens have reduced in volume.
  3. Stir or toss the bok choy in the pan. Add chile flakes and vinegar; recover. Cook for an 3 minutes, stir or toss and then cook uncovered until the bok choy is cooked to your likeness.

Notes:
Full size bok choy could certainly be used in this dish. You’ll want to cut the stems into 2″ by 1/2″ strips to mimic the size of the baby bok choy stems.

Farro and Cauliflower Salad

My introduction to farro might have been almost a decade ago however I was reintroduced to it earlier this year via the local megamart deli counter. They sell a farro salad with finely chopped vegetables that was quite tasty. Once I located a good source of farro I started experimenting with combinations for salads until I found one I liked.

Farro and Cauliflower Salad
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minute
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 oz. shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as chives or parsley
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, no bigger than 1/2″. Toss with the tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prep the rest of your veggies. I quarter the zucchini, removed the seeds and then cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Same goes for the red pepper. I also cut the shredded carrots into smaller pieces.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until just fragrant. Transfer to your serving bowl and set aside.
  4. Make a basic vinaigrette from the shallots, mustard, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine farro, veggies and herbs with the pine nuts. Toss to combine and then drizzle with the Vinaigrette. Toss some more until well combined. Enjoy.

Notes:
Both the farro and cauliflower can be prepared in advance, even the day before.

Foil-pack Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

This recipe comes from my teenage adventures in Boy Scouts. Weekend camping trips often featured a Friday night foil dinner. Before leaving home we arrange thinly sliced potatoes and onions with a hamburger on top inside an aluminum foil pouch. We’d hike into the campsite, start a fire, set-up our tents and then place the foil packs on top of coals. 20-30 minutes later you had dinner.

I make this in the summer, when I don’t want to heat up the house any more than necessary. Some of the veggies get a little burn along the edges; folks jostle each other for those tasty bits.

Foil-pack Potatoes, Carrots and Onions
Servings: 8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Special equipment: 2 40″x18″ heavy duty aluminum foil

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 or 2 lg. onions, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3-4 springs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Light your gas grill so that you have a hot side and cool side. Allow it preheat for 15 minutes (about the time it takes to assemble to foil package).
  2. Combine vegetables, oil and thyme in a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Using hands toss ingredients until well coated with oil.
  3. Overlap the 2 pieces of foil to make a large plus-sign. Transfer the coated vegetables to the center of the foil plus-sign. Bring the two ends of the one piece of foil together and crimp the ends tightly around the vegetables. Repeat with the second piece of foil. You should now have a large foil package.
  4. Place the foil pack on the hot side of the grill. Close the cover and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Flip the foil pack, cook again on the hot side, covered, for another 5 minutes.
  5. Move the foil pack to the cool side of grill, flipping once again. Cook for 20 more minutes, flipping the foil pack after 10 minutes.
  6. Now, if you are a trusting individual, transfer the foil pack to a large serving bowl and bring it inside. Let it rest for 5 minutes before opening and serving. Remove the thyme and, you know, a dollop of butter never hurt the taste of veggies.
  7. If you aren’t that trusting then carefully uncrimp the foil pack and check the donness of the vegetables. Then bring the foil pack inside cause you just found it was done. 🙂

Notes:
The number of onions you use depends on your preference.

You can leave out the carrots if you like or throw some other 1/4″ sliced root veggies in there instead.

Be careful when opening the foil pack, there will be a fair amount of steam built up inside. At a minimum it will fog your glasses, it could give you a nasty burn if you aren’t diligent.

Saturday night – 07/02/2016

We switched our our regular Saturday night gathering this week to hold short notice family cookout. We weren’t able to get together for May birthdays and now, firmly in the grips of summer, the “free” time slots are non-existent.

Menu
Deviled Eggs
Hamburgers, Cheese, Bacon, Condiments (yes, we had rolls)
Macaroni Salad
Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad
Chips and Onion Dip

Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Blueberries, with Pound Cake and/or Angel Food Cake

Notes under the cut