Happy New Year!
I hope your holidays were filled with family, friends and some delicious food. We enjoyed a little bit of all of that ourselves, although it feels as though the whole season flew by too quickly. I was grateful to end the year spending time with our daughters who are home from college, catching a few movies including Joy (fun but not as good as I expected) and The Big Short (fabulous), finishing this beautiful book that my friend Marte recommended and starting this one. I also managed to clean out my closet (ya-hoo) and my pantry (long overdue) and spent lots and lots of time cooking.
If you weren’t reading The Kitchen Scout a year ago, check out my first post of 2015 for my friend, Francine’s tips on how to restore yourself after the holidays. If you were reading a year ago, then you might remember my saying that I am not a big one for new year’s resolutions. But if I had to pick one thing for 2016, it’s that I will continue to increase the amount of plant based meals I am preparing at home. We have meaningfully moved that dial in the past couple of years and thankfully my husband is easy to please in the food department. But I am interested in exploring this way of eating in greater depth and experimenting with new plant based variations on old themes. I tried this recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon from Smitten Kitchen this past month and we didn’t miss the meat one bit. I am not planning to be a vegetarian or to make this a vegetarian blog – just challenging myself to think differently when it comes to meal prep.
This week’s recipe for Farro, Citrus and Arugula Salad was inspired by a couple of things. For one, I have been craving citrus like mad. Maybe it’s because it’s the season, but I also think the clean, fresh flavors of grapefruits and oranges have been such a nice contrast to all the rich indulgences of the holidays. I have been incorporating them into lots of salads, and eating them for breakfast and snacks. So pretty and healthy…
The first time I ever saw a blood orange was when I was a student in France. My French “mother” had a bowl of them sitting in our living room. One day I was home alone, and decided to eat what I thought was a typical orange. I remember opening up the orange fruit and being horrified by the color inside. What WAS this? I thought it had gone bad so I opened up another one with the same result. Now remember, I am not a youngster so this was well before fruits and vegetables were being exported around the world! I quit while I was ahead and later learned that these red hued beauties were appropriately named blood oranges. I have loved them ever since.
Another inspiration was a desire to lighten things up for the new year and combine hearty, filling grains with greens at meals. This salad combines nutty farro with arugula, crispy fennel, red onion, and lots of citrus in a light, refreshing vinaigrette. The salad is topped with toasted pistachios for a little bit of crunch and served at room temperature…
This salad can be a luncheon item or served for dinner. We ate it both ways and at dinner added some freshly cooked scallops which I think complemented the citrus nicely. You could top this with whatever you like, including a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas for some added protein. The salad held up well the second day which is always a bonus.
As with many of my recipes, it lends itself to substitutions. Instead of farro, use bulgur wheat or quinoa. A sliced red pepper can replace the fennel. Use walnuts instead of pistachios if that’s what you have on hand. And if you don’t have access to blood or cara cara oranges, then use navels!
Enjoy and please let me know what you think in the comments!