Amidst several days of lascivious and carnivorous eating, I announced, to Craig, that we would be having a vegan dinner. You know how in those cartoons when a car is careening out of control and they slam on the brakes, causing the tires to produce a blood curdling tire squeal and stomach churning spin of the car? That’s exactly what happened when those words fell from my lips.
In the hours leading up to dinner I witnessed eye rolls, glares and at least one look that I’m pretty sure was his plotting to drown me in the bathtub if only he could conjure up some way for me to actually step foot into the tub. Of course, not much drowning can take place unless he figures out a way to actually plug the drain, since our plumber removed the drain plug and has yet to return with one (probably not going to happen since that was about 8 months ago).
Unfazed by the silent death threats and childlike pleas for takeout I forged on with my farro salad. Yes, it’s true, you can have summer salads that are grain based and not just a big bowl of lettuce (not that we couldn’t use the roughage lettuce would provide, but farro provides tons of fiber too) and tomatoes. I mean, you can have potato salad or macaroni salad, neither of which is lettuce, so what’s the big deal about a farro salad?
I loaded up this farro recipe with a ton of summer’s best fruits like blueberries, mango and sour cherries (plus some garbanzo beans for a little more protein). To add that much more flavor, I tossed in some fresh mint and basil (remember…I’ve got lots of basil in my garden). The dressing for this farro salad is another easy peasy thing to toss together and adds a bright tanginess to the nutty grains.
I served this up to my skeptical spouse and received the first smile of the day from him. No words, just a smile. But once he started eating this summer salad I finally got to hear the words I expected to hear earlier: “Wow! this is really good and a nice break from all that steak we’ve been eating.” UGH!
If you can’t find farro, you could also substitute quinoa in this recipe. It won’t have quite the same chewy texture, but the flavor will still be excellent. For a similar texture you could use wheat berries or barley. This salad tastes just as good hot or cold, so make up a big pot of farro and make this farro recipe for a cooling dinner or hot lunch.
Nice guys don’t always finish last.
Up until now, being the “nice guy” (or beta guy) meant working late and watching the pricky guy (alpha male) get the “it” girl while you just got “a” girl, or worse, sloppy seconds. But some recent research, conducted on baboons sees things a bit differently. Yes, it is not lost on me that I am talking about a study conducted with baboons and relating it to men. While yes, sometimes they of the opposite closely resemble said baboon, I am in no way saying that they are all baboons. Actually, it’s the scientists that are attempting to draw some conclusions with this study. Let me continue….
Researchers have found that those alpha males (the one’s that are all consumed with staying at the head of the pack and banging the most fertile females) were constantly stressed out about maintaining that level of power which ultimately had negative affects on their health. While the beta males weren’t getting quite as much baboon tail, they still got adequate amounts, but did not have the same stress levels and negative effects on their health and overall were very happy with their lives.
So how can we apply this to our lives? You can run hard and fast and burn out early or you can pace yourself for success in the long run. (New York Times)
Recipe: Farro Salad with Citrus Dressing
For the Dressing:
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon High Quality Mustard
- 7 Mint Leaves (cut into a chiffonade)
- 7 Basil Leave (cut into a chiffonade)
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Farro Salad:
- 2 Cups Prepared Farro
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries
- 1 Whole Mango (peeled, seeded and chopped)
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cherries (pitted and halved)
- 1 Handful Parsley (roughly chopped-woody stems removed)
- 3/4 Cup Canned Garbanzo Beans (rinsed)
- Additional Mint and Basil Leaves (if desired)
For the Dressing:
- In a small bowl add the olive oil, lime juice and mustard.
- Whisk to combine all of the ingredients, taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
- Do not add the mint and basil to the dressing until just before serving because they will discolor.
For the Farro Salad:
- Fluff the farro with a fork and add to a large bowl.
- Add the parsley to the farro and mix to combine with the grain.
- Top with blueberries, mango, cherries and garbanzo beans.
- Roughly tear mint and basil leaves and sprinkle over the top of the salad.
- Just before serving, mix the chiffonade of mint and basil to the dressing and stir to combine.
- You can either mix the dressing into the salad and bring to the table or you can pass the dressing for everyone to add their own.
To chiffonade the herbs: stack the leaves on top of each other. (stack the mint and basil separate from one another) Roll them up (lengthwise) as tightly as possible. Cut thin strips vertically across the leaves to form thin strips.
To cook the farro: soak the grains for at least 8 hours (overnight is best). Pour the farro into a bowl and add add water until the water level is 1 inch over the grains. Cooking the farro. Drain the grains from the soaking water and pour them into a large saucepan. Add 6 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Check to make sure that the farro is still a bit chewy (that’s the best texture for the salad). Drain any water that may be left in the pan.
You could also use sweet cherries in place of the sour cherries if they aren’t available.
This salad also works great with chopped up vegetables, in place of the fruit, and goat or feta cheese, in place of the garbanzo beans. You could also make the farro in your slow cooker to save yourself some time and/or heat in your kitchen.
Preparation time: 20 Minutes
Cooking time: 20 Minutes
Diet type: Vegan
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (General)