Saturday, January 21, 2012

Farro with Broccoli and Shitakes

Easy, delicious and adapted from a very aptly named blog:Umami Girl.  Husband Jeff (he of the chicken parmesan and all things red checker table clothey persuasion) was not at all enthused when told that this was going to be dinner the other night.  So he only took a small amount and was ready to ditch it for the leftover thai noodles in the fridge.  But lo and behold.  He took seconds.  And THAT is how a dish makes it to this blog.  Please make it and if you feel the need to protien-ify it up with seared tofu or leftover animal parts, go for it! 

Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes

-serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish-


1 cup whole farro
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
15 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets (reserve the stems for another use)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the farro in a medium pot with cold water to cover by an inch. Soak for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drain the soaking water and add fresh water to cover the farro by two inches. Add the salt. Bring the farro to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the farro is tender but still chewy. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the mushrooms have reduced substantially in volume, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent the onion and garlic from browning. Add the broccoli florets, soy sauce and water to the pan. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is quite tender, 3-5 minutes more. (Cook the broccoli only as much as you like it cooked. I prefer this dish with a bit of crunch.) Remove the lid and cook one minute more to reduce any remaining liquid to just a few tablespoons.

3. Off the heat, add the drained farro and the parmesan cheese to the pan. Stir well and season to taste with pepper. Serve warm.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Leek Soup with Dill Oil

This recipe comes from a wonderful blog called which is written by Heidi Swanson, author of one of my fave cookbooks called SuperNatural Everyday...pretty healthy food with a gourmet sensibility.  This soup is fast, easy, delicious and at least one of my kids professed that it was good.  And those of you who know my kids know that they are of the "Kraft Mac n' Cheese" school, not of the "I will taste the beautiful vegetables on my plate and expand my universe" school.  So that is high praise, indeed.

Looking at this recipe, I thought the hardest part would be cleaning and slicing the leeks.  That is, until I just happened to find frozen cut up leeks at Trader Joes...Hallelujah!  That chore gone, the rest is simple.  I used two russet potatoes and peeled them, but feel free to use other potatoes and don't bother to peel them.  I also left off the cheese, just because I didn't have it and it still tasted great.  I am sure that if you add the cheese, you will swoon just that much more.  

1 small bunch of fresh dill ~ .5 oz 
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3.5 pounds leeks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt
2 large, thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6.5+ cups good-tasting vegetable broth, preferably hot
toasted almond slices, for topping
grated gruyere cheese, for topping

Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy green emulsion. Set aside.
Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and wash/rinse well. You can slice the leeks lengthwise to get in between the layers, or make a few rough chops and give them a quick soak, or whatever method you prefer. Use a food processor to chop the leeks in two batches. You can also chop them by hand, but I was in a pinch for time here, and the processor made quick work of this step.
In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 tablespoons of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up and collapse, 6 - 8 minutes. Now, stir in the potatoes and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring regularly, for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are very, very soft. If the leeks at the bottom of the pot are getting too much color, dial back the heat a bit more and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan when you're stirring. At this point you can mash everything with a potato masher or large fork. If you prefer a smoother soup, use a hand blender, but this soup is great a little on the chunky side. Stir in the hot broth, adjusting the amount based on whether you like a thick or thin soup. Bring back to a simmer, serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.
Makes a big pot - enough for 8 -10 servings.
Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 25 min