Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Grain of Truth--Farro Salad with Artichokes and Parsley

Farro salad!  My new favorite. A mouthful of chewy grains, tart artichokes hearts and the fresh taste of parsley makes me consume the entire bowl in one sitting. Well.. It's not a very big bowl so I don't think I look like a glutton. 

As January comes to an end, most of my food resolutions stay in place. Moderate portions during the week with one day to splurge on bad carbs, namely bread. If I could stay away from this particular food group then I could see my pounds melting away. In all honesty I'm trying. No bread for breakfast, just a big bowl of oatmeal. That makes my hunger stay the course for the next few hours. A small salad or a modest plate of leftovers constitutes lunch. A cup of tea to last until dinner. The latter being the one wholesome meal accompanied by a large glass of water. Almost every food-loss program advocates the merits of water. I like water so I indulge in the requisite 6-8 glasses a day. And you know what that results in??? Well ...It's a water-closeted situation!!! 

I search for a salad to go with lamb shanks. A salad with grains? I'm not so sure whether it will fly.  But I hear grains are good for you. I love barley, especially in soup. I lean hesitantly towards couscous. And I adore lentils. Farro has been sitting in the pantry for a bit. Trader Joe's have packages, big enough to give you a generous sampling or small enough not feel guilty if you plan on deep-sixing the end result. I cook the farro as though it is rice, a quick boil and then simmered on a low flame, with a lid. I am amazed at the fluffy grains. Inspiration strikes when I find a half-used bottle of marinated artichoke hearts. The Trader Joe's brand are bite-size, delicate, briny and not oily. I set them to drain in a colander. The salad is begging for some green and a handful of flat-leaf parsley does just that. I separate leaves from stems. As I do, I question the task. Why can't I add crunchy stems to the salad? A herbal bite will give the salad an interesting texture. An unbelievable aroma floods the kitchen as I chop parsley. It is the color green come to life. The only way to describe the aroma is to imagine sitting in a basket of freshly-mown grass. The mouth-refreshing flavor of parsley overtakes tart artichokes and olive oil. A hearty toss and it's ready.

Serves 2

1/2 cup Farro
1 cup Water
1/2 cup marinated Artichoke hearts
1/2 cup Parsley leaves and stems
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil
A squirt of Lemon juice

Mix the farro and water in a small saucepan.

Place pan on high heat and bring to a boil.

Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for 10 minutes.

Take artichokes out of the marinating liquid and put in a strainer to drain.

Separate parsley into leaves and stems.

Roughly chop parsley leaves.

Cut parsley stems into small bits.
Take the pan off the flame and let the farro sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Then fluff with fork.

Transfer farro to a bowl.

Add drained artichokes and parsley leaves and stems to farro.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle olive oil and mix well.

Add the squirt of lemon juice.

You can eat it as soon as it's mixed or let it sit for a 1/2 hour for the flavors to develop.

I did promise to post my new favorite. A small bowl full of chewy goodness tides me over till tea time. I love the nutty texture of farro. Funnily though, inspite of being a wheat product, it's reddish tint reminds me of the unhusked rice grown in the water-filled paddies of Goa. And I am a confirmed rice lover as my ma-in-law says. From the mouths of wise ones into the spoons of the not-so-young!!!!!!!