Monday, August 24, 2009
A Pre-Birthday Treat: Farro Salad with Green Beans and Corn
This coming Friday will be my thirtieth birthday and I plan to greet it with equal parts contentment and anticipation:
Content to close out my volatile twenties having accomplished most of the personal goals I'd set for myself. I've: married a wonderful man who is both my best friend and greatest love; found wonderful friends in a city I love; and finally, I enjoy a satisfying career and a comforting sense of self that is reinforced each and everytime I post to this blog.
Anticipation because, as it turns out, this week is shaping up to be quite the celebration! For starters, Foodbuzz, the foodie community that hosts my site ads, is hosting a blogger event at Tru this evening, sponsored by Visa Signature and I managed to get a spot at the table. For those of you outside of Chicago, Tru is one of the finest dining establishments in the city -- and probably the world. Known for creative, memorable (and expensive!) culinary achievements. From what I've heard, Tru is a "true" once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm thrilled that I'll be checking it off of my list just before my thirtieth. I've brought my camera and plan to share details later in the week!
If the week is starting on a high-note, its ending with a bang. In my previous thirty years, I've never been to Las Vegas--a wrong that my husband believes needs to be righted immediately. Therefore, on Friday, we'll be flying to the City of Sin for a weekend of decadent meals, incredible shows, and a bit of gambling. We'll be staying at the Encore and he's already arranged for dinner at Craftsteak and front row seats to Cirque De Soleil's O, but the rest of the weekend is still up in the air. If you have a list of must-sees or must-do's whilst in Vegas, please send them my way! Making my birthday even happier, my parents (including my father, a fellow Vegas-virgin) will be joining us on the trip. Expect plenty of great pictures and stories of silly antics.
Of course, the week wouldn't be complete without a little intrigue. It appears that someone has given me a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine as a birthday present, a gift I was thrilled to accept. However, the magazine showed up un-announced and I've no idea who should receive the thank you card. Will the thoughtful gift-giver please stand up?
I've already torn through the magazine with a ferocity usually reserved for meals that involve truffles (or cheese, or seafood, or champagne) and my first Bon Appetit-inspired culinary experiment did not disappoint...not at all. Taking full advantage of late-summer produce the magazine included a recipe for a salad that involved green beans, fresh corn, goat cheese and a little-known but delicious grain called Farro. Since most of the veggies arrived in our CSA box this week and the dish sounded perfect for weekend snacking and weekday lunches I set right to making it.
The JiT gave it two very hearty thumbs up, having consumed every last grain within 18 hours of my making it (so much for those weekday lunches). The salad is delicous warm, lukewarm or cold from the fridge and the crunchy vegetables are off-set by the nutty farro grains and creamy goat cheese. Its totally different than anything I've tasted but absolutely delicious (and healthy!).
As a note, I was able to find Farro at Whole Foods near rice, couscous and other grains. I don't think you'll find it at regular grocery stores, but "health" food stores or Italian markets should stock it. Its not terribly expensive, very healthy and I've already found a variety of other recipes calling for it....so it won't go to waste.
Farro Salad with Green Beans and Corn
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1/2 cup uncooked farro grain
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups of fresh corn, cut from 3 ears of corn
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 small shallot)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup fresh, crumbled goat cheese
Cook farro in a pot of boiling, salted water over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. During the last 4 minutes, add green beans to the pot to blanch. Cook until green beans are tender but still slightly crunchy. Drain beans and farro thoroughly in a colander and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, season raw chicken breast chucks with a sprinkle of salt & pepper on all sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occassionally until chicken is lightly browned on all sides and no longer pink the the center.
In a large bowl, combine farro, green beans, corn, chicken and green onions and mix until evenly combined. In a separate small bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, marjoram, salt, vinegar, mustard and shallot and whisk until smooth. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle goat cheese over top and gently fold into the salad to incorporate. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Salad can be served immediately at lukewarm temperature or chilled overnight and served cold.