2011 Jump-Start: Curried Farro Salad with Pistachio Crunch & Dried Berries

January 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m usually the kind of sap who spends dwindling, December days writing saga journal entries, wistfully reflecting and generally getting much more starry-eyed about the passing year than necessary.  But this year, on the night of the 31st/1st, I YANKED off my December calendar page with gusto and didn’t stop smiling until about four in the morning on January 1st, after ringing in the new year with a blustery walk where, among firework shows, I witnessed a two-second-long shooting star!

Don’t get me wrong, 2010 had some kick-tush highlights: I hit the dance floor with my gals at one of my best friend’s wedding; attended (and blubbered through) two fam-weddings; harvested about a thousand tomatoes from my own garden; memorized the streets of Xela, Guatemala where I hiked in the surrounding rain forests, met rock-star friends and roommates and drank atol in the dusty, cobblestone streets with my teacher, Lesvia.  But, I would be remiss if I didn’t also say that on the whole, when I do a 2010-Rewind, I tend to remember most the post-Guatemala parasite blues — (eating Saltines for months on the sofa) — that overshadowed the later-half of this past year.

But I relish new beginnings just as much as I crave good endings.  As such, I’m tackling the month of January with all sorts of new projects (six word memoirs; mongo book-stack-tackling; swimming), until a new internship begins and before I drown in an ever-growing pile of GRE note cards (barf).  Among these new projects are food explorations, starting with Farro (pronounced FAHR-oh).

Farro is one of the oldest grains cultivated by humans, originally grown in the Fertile Crescent.  It packs a protein & iron punch and is delightfully chewy, likening itself to wheat berries.  Farro can be trickier to track down than other grains like quinoa or bulgar, but you’ll find it at specialty food stores either packaged or in bulk bins, at Italian & Middle Eastern markets and, as rumored, at Costco.  I’ve never cooked with Farro before this week, but I’ve made a huge dent in my 3lb. bag (thanks, Ma!), entirely because of this salad.  This recipe was inspired by a bulgar recipe I came across in my newest cookbook, Cafe Flora Cookbook — a gift from my dear, Seattle-ite chum.  It’s a breeze to throw together (after all, it’s mostly grains with a few, fun texture & flavor add-in’s), but the dressing kicks this dish up a half-dozen notches.  Just as good (if not better) the second day, I’m happy to kickoff 2011 with such a winner.

Ingredients (for the salad):
1 cup farro, uncooked
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, roasted & salted
1/2 cup dried berries (dried blueberry, cherry, etc.)

Ingredients (for the lip-smacking dressing):
1/2 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons citrus vinegar*
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil**
generous pinch sea salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon)
cracked pepper, to taste

*Alternative: 2 tablespoons orange juice & 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
**Alternative: 2 tablespoons olive oil & 1 large clove of garlic, pounded


1.  Measure 1 cup farro and rinse.  In a large pot, combine farro with a pinch of salt and at least 3 cups of cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente (approximately 15-18 minutes).

2.  Meanwhile, prepare dressing: Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.  Chop scallions.  Measure dried fruit and nuts.

3.  When farro is cooked, drain and place back in the pot.  Add dressing and let sit for several minutes, letting the grain soak up the curried dressing.  Reserve a few tablespoons of the dried fruit, nuts and scallions for garnish and mix in the rest.  Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.  Because it’s chilly here, I enjoy it best slightly warmed.  Just before serving, garnish with reserved nuts, berries and scallions.

Diet Notes: vegan


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