The title of this post doesn’t allude to family love. But it’s involved.
John and I are lucky to see his older sister, Jennifer, and her family multiple times per year. They live in Denver, which can seem really far at times. Especially when the two little ones, Lucy and Dean, are growing up so quickly.
But it is such a quick and easy flight, and it's a great place to visit. Added bonus: some of John’s best friends from college (Go Buffs!) are still in the area as well. So it’s a nice double whammy of friends and fam. Plus lots of free room and board!
Jen and her husband Brian just bought a gorgeous house not too far from their old place. I. Am. Obsessed. The house on it’s own is incredible, but pair that with their amazing taste and decorating skills, and you have created a blogger’s dream workspace. Especially in their kitchen.
John and I went to Denver for Labor Day weekend this year. The main purpose was for John and Brian to go to Burning Man. (If you haven’t heard of it yet, give it a little ride on the Google Train, or Yahoo!, if you’re so inclined.) So Jen and I held down the fort while they were gallivanting around in the desert.
We knew they guys would be exhausted upon return, so we ran around town gathering sustenance for their homecoming. Slash I wanted an excuse to cook in her kitchen and take pictures of the process.
To go alongside our mixed grill, I wanted to do a farro salad. And coincidentally enough, Jen has been missing a retired one from Nordstrom Café. (Not only do Jen and I frequently find ourselves with the same shoes, bag, top, etc., but we also have a shared penchant for whole grains.)
The recipe is nowhere to be found, but with a somewhat unsuccessful Pinterest search, we were able to find the bare bones from OMG Lifestyle Blog.
This salad can be tweaked in a hundred different ways. The attempt to recreate the Nordstrom version is what you see here, with some other variations below. At its core, all you need is some farro, fresh veggies and cheese, and you can mix up any vinaigrette you want to toss it all in.
Cook the farro according to package instructions, but make it in chicken or vegetable stock instead of water for added flavor. After it’s cooked and drained, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil (so the grains don’t stick to one another creating a big block) and pop it in the fridge to cool.
Once chilled to room temp or below, mix in whatever your heart desires. I like to keep it seasonal so minimal work is needed to prepare the produce.
In attempt to recreate the Nordstrom recipe, I made a sherry-honey vinaigrette. I lean acidic, so did one part sherry vinegar to one part EVOO (1/4 cup each). (If you aren’t as much of a tangy palate, you can weigh a little heavier on the olive oil.) I mixed in honey to taste (about 2 tablespoons) and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
The highlight of this salad for me was the shaved aged manchego cheese. It’s so salty and just the right amount of pungent. I’m into the shaved cheese approach right now. More cheese surface area per bite. Duh!
We left all the veggies raw since they were at their peak of season and freshness. It was a mix of cherry tomatoes, asparagus and hericots verts (AKA skinny green beans). I crushed up some pistachios for crunch as well. Toss all of the ingredients with the farro, cheese and dressing and let sit for a couple hours in the fridge. Toss with frissee lettuce and garnish with basil before serving. (Full disclosure: unless you can find really nice, crisp frissee, skip it.)
An even better version I tossed up a couple weeks later with ingredients we had lying around:
- Lacinato kale (cut into thin strips)
- Raw corn off the cob
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
- Crushed marcona almonds
- Shaved parmesan
That time I made a simple red wine vinaigrette for the dressing. (I really liked the omission of frissee and addition of kale here. The almonds were delish and I love using raw corn until its window, and therefore summer, is up.)
Always make more of this salad than you need. You can add in proteins as you go (i.e., a fried egg or grilled chicken) to oomph it up. Even on it’s own, this stuff is a great, healthy grab-and-go lunch for the rest of the week. If it lasts that long…
I gotta give a big shout out to Kate Goddu for sending me full throttle into farro obsession. She’s a lovely little lady that knows her way around her also gorgeous kitchen.
What’s your go-to whole grain? Tell me how you mix it up.