Farro (also known as emmer) is an ancient grain with a chewy texture and a subtle nutty flavor. Farro is an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin B complex and microelements (such as magnesium, iron and zinc).
Farro is usually cooked like pasta, so it is practically boiled in salted water. The cooking time usually varies between 25 and 45 minutes, it is ready when it’s tender but still a little bit chewy. Today I served it in a divine salad, topped with sauteed mushrooms and pickled onion. This salad is simple yet elegant, light yet hearty, packed with nutrients and bold flavors. I started the salad by boiling the farro and while the farro was on the stove, I pickled the onion slices in a brine made with water, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. To this brine I added a sliced beet which gave the onion ribbons a wonderful, almost hypnotic strawberry-red color. While my farro was simmering and my onion was pickling I sauteed some champignon mushrooms in some chili-flavored olive oil. And this is how my all-time favorite salad was born!
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- 150g uncooked farro
- 250g champignon mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp chili powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 small red beet
- Fill a large saucepan with water, add 1 Tbsp of salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Add the farro, reduce the heat to minimum and simmer for 25 – 45 minutes (cook according to the instructions on the package; farro is cooked when it’s tender but still a little bit chewy).
- Meanwhile peel the beet with a vegetable peeler, slice it and place it in a small saucepan. Peel the onion, halve it, slice it finely and add it to the saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of water, 2 Tbsp of sugar and 2 Tbsp of vinegar. Place it on the stove over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and simmer it for 1 minute. Leave it aside to marinade.
- Clean the mushrooms with a clean sponge. Remove the stems and halve the caps. In a large skillet heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Season it with chili and add the mushrooms (caps + stems). Sautee until the mushrooms become golden brown and the liquid has evaporated. Add the minced garlic and chopped thyme and cook for further 60 seconds, stirring continuously. Deglaze the pan with 1 Tbsp lemon juice and leave aside to cool down.
- When the farro is cooked, drain the excess water, rinse under cold water and drain well using a colander.
- Remove the excess liquid from the pickled onions and discard the beet slices.
- To assemble the salad mix together the farro with the sauteed mushrooms. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt. Divide the salad between two plates and garnish with pickled onion ribbons.
- Place the leftovers (if any) in a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
If I have to imagine an ideal snack, I’d definitely pick a large cup of tea and some homemade biscuits. Simple as that! I love cookies so much, I love them in every shape, size or flavor, so it was impossible for me not to fall in love with these amazing lavender shortbread rectangles. Shortbread is a Scottish biscuit traditionally made from one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. I followed these proportions but instead of butter, I used old-fashion margarine, to make them suitable for a plan-based diet. They turned out amazing, so crumbly that they simply melted in my mouth.
These lavender biscuits are so delicious and extremely easy to make. You shape the dough into a log, you refrigerate it and you cut it in thin rectangles, so you don’t need a cookie cutter to make this recipe. It’s simply fascinating how just a few basic ingredients can create something majestic.
Ingredients (for 20 biscuits):
- 115g margarine / vegan butter / coconut oil refined or unrefined (unrefined coconut oil will give the cookies a subtle coconut flavor) at room temperature
- 130g white flour
- 30g powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp chopped dried culinary lavender flowers
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven at 180C / 350F (gas mark 4).
- Place the butter in a large bowl and use a mixer or a spatula to beat it until fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar, add it to the bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add the salt, chopped lavender flowers and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Sift in the flour and stir until the mixture resembles to wet sand. Mix with your finger until you form a ball of dough.
- Place the dough between two cling film rectangles and shape in into a log. Press gently on the top with a cookie sheet to flatten the log slightly, then turn the log on its side and press again. Begin smoothing the sides of the log with your fingers until all the sides are as flat an possible. Refrigerate the log for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes use a sharp knife to cut the log into 20 pieces. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined tray and refrigerate for further 10 minutes.
- Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 13 – 14 minutes, or until they become light golden brown at the bottom.
- Place the lavender shortbread cookies on a wire rack to cool down and store them in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.
I have an almost irritating gastronomical curiosity, a curiosity that often leads to surprising (if not weird) culinary combinations. I love complex, technical and challenging things, but often I find myself yearning for simplicity. Throughout time I’ve learnt that those simple things tend to fascinate, they tend to mesmerize. You simply get them and they simply get you.
One of those mesmerizing simple things are undoubtedly tomatoes à la Provençale, ripe tomatoes stuffed with flavorful bread crumbs. There are 2 tricky things about this recipe: the bread crumbs must be fresh, made from day old bread and the herbs should be fresh as well, not dried; dried bread crumbs and dried herbs aren’t quite a match made in heaven, at least not for this recipe. These being said, it’s impossible for me to describe how mouth-watering these stuffed tomatoes are. The contrast between the sweet and juicy tomato and the crispy bread crumbs is so delightful and you cannot limit yourself at just one serving! Continue reading Tomatoes à la Provençale
I absolutely adore pasta. It doesn’t matter if they are fusilli, spagetti or penne. It doesn’t mater if they are regular, whole wheat or rice pasta. I discovered whole wheat pasta 3 years ago and I felt in love. Why should we choose whole wheat instead of regular pasta? Because whole wheat pasta are higher in fiber and vitamins (epecially B complex, K vitamin and E vitamin).
I love this particular recipe because it’s tasty and healthy. This recipe belongs to Jamie Oliver and it includes ricotta and parmesan cheese. I usually swap ricotta for cashew cheese and parmesan for nutritional yeast . And voilà … I have a vegan, nutritious and delicious bowl of pasta.
Continue reading Eggplant Whole Wheat Fusilli