Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper

The idea for this recipe came from one of the recipe mailing lists to which I subscribe. I liked the concept of pesto with farro. I changed up the add-ins and served this warm.

Results were mixed. One person felt it didn’t need the pesto, another adored the pesto. Most just gobbled it up. 🙂

Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked pearled farro
  • 2 zucchinis (see directions for prep)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1/2″ dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 8 oz. prepared basil pesto
  • 4 oz. pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart sauce pan. Add the salt and bay leaves; stir until salt is dissolved. Add the farro and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes.
  2. While the farro cooks prep the zucchini. Remove the stem end and then cut into quarters lengthwise. Remove the seeds from the center of each quarter and then slice into 1/2″ wedges. Combine with peppers and set aside.
  3. When farro is ready drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the zucchini and pepper mixture into the farro. Gently fold the pesto and half of the pine nuts into the mix.
  4. Just before serving garnish with the remaining pine nuts and fresh basil.

Notes:
Pearled farro will cook faster than the semi-pearled variety, which is what I normally use. My regular brand (Bob’s Red Mill) was out of stock at the local megamart where I normally pick it up. Luckily I found another brand close at hand.

The original recipe that sparked my recipe can be found at campbells.com

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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.

Toasted Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, Parsley and Thyme

Couscous is just about the simplest side dish you can make. If you can boil water then you can make couscous. It can be customized in dozens, maybe hundreds of ways. I get amused when I walk down the aisle in the grocery story and see the section with couscous mixes. These mixes add some extra flavoring (and a heap of sodium) in exchange for doubling the cost of the base ingredient. Free yourself from the preboxed couscous mix; it’s so easy.

By the way, don’t confuse couscous with Israeli (or pearl) couscous. Couscous is made from semolina and water and, uncooked, looks a bit like course sand while Israeli couscous looks a bit like those hard white balls they decorate cakes with and is more akin to pasta. I have a recipe using Israeli couscous elsewhere on this site if you are interested.

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Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Servings: 4
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. spinach, well rinsed
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cover the raisins with ~1/2 hot water and allow to sit for 30 minutes to hydrate.
  2. Place pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until nuts are golden brown; shaking pan periodically.
  3. Wipe out skillet, return to medium heat and add the oil. Heat until shimmering; add onions and a generous pinch of salt. Toss to coat with oil and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped garlic, toss and cook until fragrant (about 1 minutes).
  5. Add spinach, another generous pinch of salt and cover the pan. Cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the cover. Stir onions and spinach together. Continue to cook, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes or until moisture has evaporated.
  7. Add lemon juice, raisins and pine nuts; stir to incorporate. Taste; add pepper and salt as desired.

Notes:
If a lemon isn’t available add 1 tablespoon of cider or white vinegar.

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Last weekend I roasted some cubed butternut squash, tossed it with finely chopped red peppers, and served it as a side dish. I had a fair amount left over and got it in my head that I wanted to make dessert with it for some reason or another. If I’m being honest squash pie isn’t my favorite pie. It falls well behind apple, chocolate cream and chicken.

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Google found me 12 Perfect Fall Desserts Made with Winter Squash, one of which seemed to fit what was in my head. Crystallized ginger was not to be found at my local mega mart though so I used some homemade candied tangerine peel that Ted made back when tangerines were in season. The result was surprisingly moist with the squash basically disappearing into the cake.

Slice of Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

The last slice of cake.

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Pasta with Pesto and Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe breaks down into 4 basic steps once the prep work is done – make pesto, roast cauliflower, boil pasta and combine. If you cut the cauliflower small enough it disappears a midst the pasta and pesto. That’s not a bad thing if you are feeding children or the cauliflower-phobic.
[Pasta with Pesto and Roasted Cauliflower]
While I made this dish to be served hot/warm it could also work as a cold salad.

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Mixed Nut Butter Brittle

Mixed Nut Butter Brittle
Servings: about 1 pound
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 8-10 pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups raw nuts, mixed (I used pine nuts, cashews and walnuts)
  • sea salt

Special Equipment:

  • Silpat

Directions:

  1. Combine nuts in a cold skillet. Heat skillet over medium-high, moving nuts frequently to prevent burning. When nuts are lightly browned (3-5 minutes) transfer nuts to a cutting board. Allow to cool slightly and chop to desired size.
  2. While nuts are toasting place a small sauce pan over low heat. Add butter and allow it to melt. Add sugar, stir to combine and turn heat up to high. Leave undisturbed for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Place nuts on a Silpat lined sheet pan. When butter-sugar mixture is a medium to dark caramel color pour the mixture over the nuts. Spread with a back of a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with a generous pinch of sea salt. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Break into bite-size pieces and try to not eat the whole batch in one sitting.

Note:
The butter-sugar mixture will go from light to medium to dark brown very quickly once it starts to color. Don’t walk away or you may need to start over.

Any combination of nuts would work here. I think raw (not roasted or otherwise previously heated) nuts work best.

The brittle may feel a bit oily to the touch. Blotting it with some paper towels may help a bit.

Store in a air-tight container. You know, the stuff you don’t eat immediately. Cause that’s likely.