Wishing everyone a great 2012!
I know I plan on making more changes in my life over the coming year. One change is to incorporate more interesting and good-tasting grain and vegetables dishes into my everyday eating. I have a huge stack of fabulous recipes I’m always hoping to make, and this past week I tried out this farro dish based on a recipe by Suzanne Goin. It’s delicious. Toasting the farro in a sautée pan is the secret to bringing out the great nutty flavor of this Italian grain. The toasted pine nuts, currants, and kale along with the other ingredients create a wonderful mix of flavors. As with any dish of this type, you can easily modify the recipe to your taste. In my version, I chiffonaded the kale and sautéed it instead of blanching it. The red onions at the store were too big, so I used shallots. It all works. If you end up making it, let me know how your version turned out. The leftovers refrigerate well to enjoy as a salad or side the next day.
Here’s to a healthy start to the year:
Toasted Farro with Kale, Currants, and Pine Nuts
Recipe by Suzanne Goin
3 tablespoons currants
1½ cups farro
1 pound cleaned kale, preferably cavolo nero, center ribs removed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1 dried mild chile (preferably chile de arbol), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a generously salted pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, place currants in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let currants soak for 10 minutes, or until plumped. Drain and set aside.
2. Once the water has come to a boil, blanch the kale for 1-2 minutes. Transfer kale to a colander (do not throw out the pot of hot water) and toss to dry. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop the kale.
3. Bring the water back to a boil and stir in the farro. Cook for 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and spread on a baking sheet to cool.
4. While the farro cooks, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, thyme, rosemary, chili, and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the onion softens and starts to color. Stir in chopped kale and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until kale is tender. Transfer to a serving dish and discard rosemary sprig.
5. Wipe the pan clean and set it back over medium-high heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cooked farro, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan; the grains will crisp and develop a golden sheen.
6. Return the kale to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring the greens and grains together, for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in currants, toasted pine nuts, and parsley. Transfer to a serving dish.
7. Wipe the pan clean and set it back over medium heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce to a scant tablespoon. Stir the reduced balsamic into the farro dish. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy without guilt.
Suzanne Goin graduated from Brown University. She was named Best Creative Chef by Boston magazine in 1994, one of the Best New Chefs by Food & Wine in 1999, and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2003, 2004, and 2005. She and her business partner, Caroline Styne, also run four restaurants in Los Angeles, where Goin lives with her husband, David Lentz. She is the author with Teri Gelber of Sunday Suppers at Luques.