Have I mentioned purple is my favorite color? Like the deep plum color? This farro salad is not only delicious but also like really beautify. The caramelized red onions and bursting roasted grapes are perfectly nestled with creamy goat cheese and whole grains. I love hearty grain salads, especially this time of year. They make a great holiday meal contribution because they serve well at room temperature and can be made in advanced and transported easily.
We hosted Thanksgiving this past week. I LOVE hosting, maybe a little too much. I tend to get carried away, never quite get everything I had planned done, but it somehow always comes together. My parents flew out from California and we had a handful of friends share the Thanksgiving meal with us. It was my 5th vegetarian thanksgiving to date, and my 10th thanksgiving with my husband! Our first thanksgiving, in 2008, was eaten on hot pink microwavable plastic plates in my dorm room. I'm pretty sure all we had was turkey, mashed potatoes, and jello but we felt soooo sophisticated with our red wine we weren't legally able to even drink. We've upgraded out thanksgiving-game significantly since then, and have spent each year following in a different place with different people. We try to make thanksgiving about gratitude and inclusion.
I've started playing Christmas music about 30 seconds after we finished the meal on Thanksgiving day. Every year I think Christmas could not come at a better time. I tend to get the winter blues this time of year and the lights, christmas music, and holiday gift buying always seem to energize me from the inside out.
Serves 4-6, or more as a side
1 cup uncooked farro (I use the Trader Joes brand)
2 cups water (or stock)
1 bay leaf
1 dried chile de arbol (optional)
1 large red onion
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound red seedless grapes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
chile flakes, to taste (I used 1/2 regular flakes, 1/2 urfa chile flakes)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 oz goat cheese
large handful baby kale (or arugula)
salt & pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan bring the water and farro to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes (though this will depend on the type of farro you use - see package for specific timing) until the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, season with salt, and let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment. Slice the red onion in half, then cut the onion in half moon slices about 1/2 inch thick. Scatter the onions on the sheet pan and top with fresh thyme springs then drizzle lightly with grapeseed oil, and a liberal dusting of salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, toss, then top with the grapes and another light drizzle of oil. Return to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the onions are deeply caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Pour the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and chile flakes over the farro and toss. Top with pine nuts, goat cheese, baby kale, and onion and grape mixture. Toss well and enjoy!
I have been super MIA. This time of year I seem to get so sucked into laziness as the days get shorter and the sun and warmth disappear. This makes it particularly hard to snap a photo of dinner when dinner is a bowl of roasted veggies we eat at 9pm.
With my husband and I both in grad school (me full time, him part time) and both working (him full time, me part time) we often find ourselves home late only to look at each other and almost simultaneously say "wanna order sweetgreen". Maybe I am SUPER basic, but I freaking love sweetgreen. Something about being able to order a hardy, filling salad that's comparable to something homemade feels like such an easy satisfying choice.
And being the total creature of habit that I am, despite going to sweetgreen maybe 20 + times I order the same thing literally every time: The Harvest Bowl no chicken. Sometimes I add tofu, sometimes I add falafel, sometimes I add nothing but it's so damn good on it's own.
With thanksgiving coming, I knew I wanted to recreate my beloved salad at home. I spruced it up with pomegranates and used warm roasted butternut instead of the cold sweet potato slices and it is everything. Prepping all of the different elements takes some time - which is part of what makes sweetgreen so damn tempting for folks who are busy, but it is worth the effort if you have some extra time. And because kale is basically the most badass green you can totally eat the leftovers the next day without them getting soggy! This will for sure be on our thanksgiving table this year!
Serves 4 as a large meal, or 8-10 as an appetizer/side
Inspired by: sweetgreen
1 small butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 cup wild rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large pomegranate (or about 3/4 cup arils)
1 large bunch of kale (~10-12 oz), de-ribbed and thinly chopped
1 large honeycrisp apple, cored and diced into large cubes
3 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Meanwhile peel the butternut, then slice in half and discard the stringy center and seeds (or toast them with olive oil and salt for a tasty snack). Dice the butternut and then toss the cubes with oil and a liberal amount of salt. Bake the butternut for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly as you assemble the rest of the salad.
Make the rice. Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 50 minutes (or per the instructions on your rice container).
Slice open the pomegranate and remove the seeds. I find the easiest way to do this is to quarter the pomegranate then submerge one quarter at a time in a large bowl of water. Underwater carefully tear away the pith, removing the rubies. The rubies will float to the top of the water and the pith will fall to the bottom!
Roast the almonds. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees (alternately you could roast the almonds in a small toaster oven - that's usually what I do). Toss almonds with olive oil and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until almond skins begin to crack and turn a dark brown color (watch carefully so they don't burn). You want to bring them right to the edge of burnt so they are crunchy and extremely fragrant. Roughly chop and set aside.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients into a airtight jar (I use a mason) and shake until combined. Pour about half of the dressing over the kale and using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together for a good 3 minutes until the kale becomes limp and the pile decreases in size. Top with the roasted squash, wild rice, pomegranate seeds, almonds, goat cheese, and apple. Drizzle on the remaining dressing, toss and serve!
I started grad school year two of five last week. It felt like I was going into battle with not enough time to prepare.
In an effort to hold onto some semblance of control in my life I started running 2-3 days a week. I've had a love hate relationship with running since childhood. My family is runners, I'm a runner, and I've turned to running in an addictive way many times throughout my life. I've started again after a couple years of hiatus and it feels SO GOOD. Something about working at a hospital all day, sitting with people through their pain and suffering, holding it together to offer them some bit of understanding and support leaves me feeling cooped up and emotionally drained. And when I run I let it all out, I sweat, I race to Kelly Clarkson and all the other female-power artists in my spotify library and it feels so good. Yes, the idea of burning some calories and loosing some of the first-year-of-grad-school weight sounds appealing but even if I don't loose a pound I know that running makes me feel good on the inside. Mentally it feels so therapeutic.
I always remember learning in teacher training years ago that after animals experience a stressful events they run and shake and move their bodies as a way of releasing that tension. Humans just hold it. For me running seems to release it all in a way nothing else does. This morning I listened to an episode of NPR's "On Being" called Running as a Spiritual Practice and it resonated so strongly with me. I've been listening to this song that repeats the lyrics "slow down" as I run, and even though my body is going fast I find that my mind is able to let go, slow down, and connect to all of the sensations of the present moment in a way that feels so healing.
I made this quinoa salad a couple weeks ago. It's my nod to the end of summer. Hearty whole grain salads have always filled me up and made me feel nourished in a way lettuce never quite could. This quinoa salad is no exception. The juicy sweet pluots offer the perfect nod to summer while the warm toasted hazelnuts seem to welcome fall. The basil keeps it fresh and the balsamic vinaigrette adds a zingy bite. It's really so good.
Feel free to skip on the goat cheese for a dairy free option, or substitute regular plums if you can't find pluots. This salad is intended to be simple and fuss-free.
Serves 2 as a main, generously
Adapted from: The Year in Food
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 small shallot, diced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey (or agave/maply syrup if vegan)
pinch of salt & pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (about half a can)
small handful basil
1-2 small pluots (or plums)
salt + pepper to taste
Place the water in a small saucepan over high heat, rinse the quinoa then add it to the water. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat but keep covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork then toss with a generous amount of salt. Set aside to cool.
Make the dressing. Combine shallot, olive oil, balsamic, honey, salt and pepper in a small jar (I use a mason) and shake to combine.
In a small saucepan toast the hazelnuts over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, tossing & watching regularly to ensure they don't burn. Once slightly browned and fragrant remove from heat. Thinly slice the pluots and the basil.
In a medium bowl combine the quinoa, hazelnuts, goat cheese, chickpeas, basil and dressing and toss. Gently stir in the pluots and serve.