Farro with Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto & Spinach

I love a dish involving warm dressing and wilted greens. I am also in love with farro- and pesto. This full-flavored vegetarian dish was made for me! Loved it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used homemade pesto, Campari tomatoes, and several of the modifications and options that were suggested in the original recipe for ingredient substitutions.

It was incredible as a summer dish but could easily be served in any season with all of the possible variations. It can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. The dish could also be topped with a protein such as grilled chicken, scallops, or shrimp, if desired. We ate it for dinner with roasted CSA vegetables and a green salad. It would also be lovely for a special lunch or brunch. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4

  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s “10 minute” Farro)
  • 2 pints (4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 pounds of Campari tomatoes (12-14 tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into 1-inch wedges keeping the root intact (I cut a large red onion into 8ths)(can substitute shallots)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the farro
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) store-bought or homemade pesto, plus more to taste (recipe below)
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1 tablespoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, arugula, Swiss chard (stemmed & chopped), or baby kale
  • 1 (4 oz) ball fresh mozzarella or burrata, torn into chunks, or 1/2 cup ricotta salata or feta, crumbled, optional (I used 4 oz crumbled feta)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves and tender stems, chiffonade or roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and adjust the heat to maintain a medium boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until tender and not too chewy, about 10 to 30 minutes. (I used Trader Joe’s “10-minute” Farro which cooked in 10 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile, on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, combine the tomatoes and onion wedges with the oil, making sure everything is well coated and glistening, then season with salt, pepper and the red-pepper flakes. Roast until the tomatoes blister and slightly deflate, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. When the farro is done, drain, then pour into a serving bowl or back into the pot. Toss with some olive oil, then mix in the pesto.
  5. Add the lemon zest and juice, then stir in the spinach (or other greens). Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Scrape the onions, tomatoes and their juices into the farro; season with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Add the cheese, if using, then garnish with herbs and serve.

For the Pesto: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • coarse salt
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
  3. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. (Sometimes I add a little bit of stock instead to achieve the same result.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

The pesto recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The amounts can be modified to reduce the volume; only 1/4 cup of pesto is used in the farro dish.

Escarole, Pear, Parmesan, & Basil Salad

A fellow member of my CSA shared this recipe as a wonderful way to use the escarole and basil in our share. I loved it! The original recipe was published in November- I do think that this would be a terrific salad to serve on or around Thanksgiving or as a special winter salad. It was also great in July. 😉

The recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Mindy Fox. I modified the proportions and used my favorite mustard vinaigrette instead of the suggested vinaigrette. I also used a Bartlett pear, our favorite, instead of Comice or Anjou. I loved the crunch from the hazelnuts.

Yield: Serves 6 as a side

For the Salad:

  • 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 T hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, or more, to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 large head of escarole (about 3/4 pound), leaves cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and then torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small Bartlett, Comice, or Anjou pear(s), cored, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) basil leaves, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • flaky sea salt

For the Dressing:

  • 1 shallot, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium. Add hazelnuts and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden, 2–3 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. While the nuts cool, make the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Set aside. (I transfer the dressing to a jar.)
  3. Place escarole, pear slices, Parmesan shavings, basil, and about 1/3 of the reserved hazelnuts in a large bowl.
  4. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the prepared salad.
  5. Gently toss until salad is evenly dressed; season with sea salt and additional pepper, to taste. (You will have extra dressing to reserve for another salad.)
  6. Top with remaining hazelnuts. Serve.

Warm Lentil & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower Salad

This is another dish with a crispy and delicious parmesan topping. Cheese makes everything better. 🙂 I loved that the base of the dish was an arugula salad. The crunchy roasted almond topping provided a nice contrasting texture too.

I cut the head of cauliflower through the center into two steaks and roasted the additional florets in a formation as close to a plank as well, for presentation purposes. Next time, I may change the orientation of the cauliflower to keep the florets attached to the core.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used French green lentils, added red pepper flakes, and modified the cooking and serving methods. It was a lovely, fresh and healthy light meal. We ate it for dinner, but it would also be wonderful served for a special lunch, of course. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

  • 3 cups of cored and chopped tomatoes, about 3 beefsteak tomatoes (I used 2 beefsteak and 3 romas)
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, plus 1 clove for cooking the lentils, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup (8 T) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut through the core into 1-inch planks
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used French green lentils)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (3/4 cup)
  • 1 bunch arugula, trimmed (I used about 4 oz wild baby arugula)
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • toasted almonds, chopped, for serving (I used sliced almonds)
  1. Cook the lentils: Place 3/4 to 1 cup of dried lentils with a large smashed (but intact) garlic clove, optional, in a pot covered by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender. (You will have leftover cooked lentils.)
  2. Toast the almonds: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread almonds in an even layer on a rimmed quarter sheet pan. Toast the almonds, stirring once or twice, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 475°F, with a rack placed in the center and another rack in top position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  4. In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic, capers, large pinch of red pepper flakes, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place cauliflower planks on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Brush cauliflower evenly with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Roast until undersides are golden, 12 to 13 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, flip the cauliflower and push to one side.
  8. Add tomato mixture to other side of the pan.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees; roast 12 minutes more.
  10. Stir 1 1/2 cups drained lentils into tomato mixture. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  11. Sprinkle everything with cheese.
  12. Switch oven setting to broil, and broil on top rack until cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  13. Toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  14. Serve the roasted cauliflower planks over lentils and arugula salad, sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Skillet Caesar Salad Roast Chicken

Oops… I posted the skillet dessert before the skillet dinner. Now you know that I always plan dessert first. 😉

I loved the way this dish was originally described: “The only thing better than a roast chicken and a Caesar salad is a Caesar salad served with a chicken smothered in Caesar dressing and roasted until the garlic, anchovies, and mustard become deeply caramelized and flavorful.” Wow.

This fabulous, full-flavored roast chicken is from Bon Appétit magazine’s “Healthyish” column- one of my favorites. The recipe is by Molly Baz. Plating the carved chicken in the warm skillet kept the meal at a perfect temperature for serving.

For our family, the croutons were the absolute highlight. They brought a “grilled chicken Caesar salad” to the next level. 🙂 I made them using a pain au levain boule from a local bakery. I also incorporated additional romaine in the salad and garnished it with grated Parmesan. We ate the dish with roasted potatoes on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 8 anchovies, mashed to a paste
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 6 T mayonnaise, divided
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 3 ½–4-lb. whole chicken or 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 3 lb.)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 medium shallots, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 lemons, divided
  • 1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for garnish
  • 4 oz country-style bread, torn into 1 ½” pieces (I used 1/4-loaf Pain au Levain boule)
  • 2 to 3 romaine hearts, leaves separated, torn or sliced (I used 3 Artisan hearts)
  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Whisk anchovies, garlic, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the anchovy mayo in another small bowl.
  4. Pat chicken dry; season outside and inside all over with salt.
  5. Arrange breast side up in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and tuck wings underneath.
  6. Arrange shallots around (if using legs, nestle under and around); season with salt and pepper.
  7. Brush remaining anchovy mayo all over chicken, making sure to get it into the nooks and crannies, then brush shallots with any leftover anchovy mayo.
  8. Place chicken in oven so legs are facing toward the back (this is the hottest part of the oven and will help the legs cook before the breast dries out) and roast until some anchovy mayo and fat begin to drip onto shallots, about 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and, using tongs, turn shallots to coat in drippings. Return skillet to oven and continue to roast chicken, stirring shallots once or twice, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 155°, about 35–55 minutes. (I used an oven probe.) If skin starts to get too dark on the top before chicken is done, tent area with foil, leaving the rest of the bird exposed. If using chicken legs, start checking at 30 minutes (a thermometer inserted right at the joint should register 160°).
  10. Transfer chicken and shallots to a cutting board, leaving behind any juices and fat in skillet. If shallots need more time to soften and darken, roast a bit longer without chicken before proceeding. (I did not continue to cook the shallots.) Remove the shallot peels. Reserve skillet.
  11. Reduce oven temperature to 400°.
  12. Finely grate half of zest of 1 lemon into a large bowl; cut lemon in half and squeeze in juice.
  13. Add reserved 1 tablespoon anchovy mayo, remaining 3 tablespoons mayo, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and whisk to combine, then stir in Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
  14. Add bread to reserved skillet with fat and turn to coat. Return skillet to oven and toast bread, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and crisp, 12–15 minutes.
  15. Transfer croutons to bowl with reserved dressing. Add romaine and gently toss until lettuce is well coated. Season salad with salt and pepper.
  16. Slice remaining lemon into wedges.
  17. Carve chicken and nestle back into skillet or transfer to a platter; arrange shallots and lemon wedges around. Serve the chicken with the salad. Garnish with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Creamy Cucumber-Avocado Salad

This fabulously easy salad was creamy and delicious. We ate it as a side with grilled vegetable and fresh ricotta sandwiches, but it could also be served as a light summertime main dish.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used avocado mayonnaise, chipotle Cholula hot sauce, and cilantro. My kids thought that it tasted like guacamole. 🙂 Great.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 seedless cucumber (about 3/4 to 1 pound), washed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used avocado mayonnaise)
  • juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Chipotle Cholula, to taste
  • chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce; adjust to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with chopped herbs.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi & Sourdough Croutons

This is a great dish to make with wonderful September tomatoes. I used a blend of my CSA tomatoes with grape as well as Campari tomatoes. It may possibly be my daughter’s (and even my husband’s!) dream salad- loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough and fried cheese?!?! It was well received. 🙂

The recipe was inspired by a Greek horiatiki salad and is also similar to an Italian panzanella. Incorporating halloumi cheese makes it hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course. This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin.

Yield: 6 to 8 as an appetizer or side, 4 to 6 as a main course

For the Croutons:

  • 1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (I used a blend of orange cherry, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
  • 8 to 12 ounces halloumi cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 T thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
  • 2 to 3 T coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar, plus more as needed

To Make the Croutons:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick.
  3. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. (I baked mine for 12 minutes on convection.)
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

To Make the Salad:

  1. In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
  4. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
  5. Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well.
  6. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)
  7. When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  9. Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.
  10. Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.)
  11. At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Greens with Tomatoes, Creamed Mozzarella & Wild Rice

While my kids were away at sleep away camp over the summer (for one week), my sweet husband encouraged me to make dishes that were loaded with my favorite greens, etc. (dishes that may not have thrilled my kids!) Don’t worry, we also went out to eat. 🙂

I had wanted to make this dish after reading about how the recipe creates a faux burrata- genius! This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Abra Berens. I substituted my beautiful CSA chard for the kale. This dish would also be delicious using true burrata, of course. 😉 I used pre-sliced fresh mozzarella but would use torn pieces from a ball of fresh mozzarella next time. It would have improved the burrata hack. Any cooked grain could be substituted for the wild rice as well.

We ate this dish as a main course, but it would also be a nice side dish or salad course.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main course

  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rosé
  • 1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight in 4 cups water (can substitute farro, quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • 1 bunch (4 cups) red or rainbow chard or kale, midribs stripped, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1 ball (8 oz, 1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella
  • 4 T sour cream (or yogurt or creme fraiche)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Soak the wild rice overnight in 4 cups of water. (The soaking liquid is used to cook the rice.)
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sweat the onion and garlic with the salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the wild rice and the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the chard/kale with a pinch of salt. Massage until the greens are dark green, limp, and tender in mouthfeel.
  6. Tear the mozzarella into rough chunks.
  7. Combine with the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, a good pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
  8. When the wild rice is cooked, drain any residual liquid and let cool.
  9. Toss the tomatoes, kale, and wild rice together with a couple glugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  11. Dot with the creamed mozzarella and serve.
Note: The amount of time it takes to tenderize raw greens will vary depending on the age of the plant. The tougher the leaves, the longer it will take. Along the way, taste an individual leaf—once it is easily chewable, you’re done.

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