Split Pea Soup

I have Spring Fever.

All I want is green grass, trees with green buds, and flowers with big green leaves. Green, green, and more green.

Which means that I was absolutely delighted when I came home from rotation tonight and seeing that my mom was in the process of whipping up a big pot of BRIGHT GREEN split pea soup… which she proceeded to inform me was also vegan (yay for Vegetarianism 3.0)!

It all starts with a large stock pot filled with one pound of green split peas, chopped onion, celery, garlic powder, oregano, pepper, bay leaf, and water.

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Just toss in some potatoes cut into thick medallions.

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And simmer the veggies and split peas uncovered for 1½ hours.

After the soup has simmered, add in a whole bunch of carrots.

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Continue to simmer the soup for 2-2½ hours until the soup becomes thick and perfectly green!

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Hello, split pea soup! All that’s left is to stir in 2-3 tablespoons of chopped, fresh dill. Green, fresh, and a great complement to the earthy split peas.

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Spring fever cured… at least for now!

Your spring obsessed friend,

C

Split Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1-1lb bag of green split peas

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound celery, sliced into half-moons

3 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½–inch rings

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

3 quarts water

1 pound carrots, sliced into thick rings

2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

 

Steps:

  1. In a large soup pot, add in split peas, onion, celery, potatoes, garlic powder, dried oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 1½ hours.
  2. Add in carrots, stir to combine, and continue to simmer uncovered for 2-2½ hours until the soup becomes thick and green. Stir in the fresh dill and serve alongside crusty bread.

Enjoy!

 

Mushroom-Lentil Potpie

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I love Pinterest. Seriously, I love, love, love Pinterest. If I could, I would sit around all day and scroll through the millions of crafting ideas, recipes, makeup tips, and exercise regimens.

As much as I would like to do this (preferably in my pj’s with a cup of tea and something sweet), I usually just flip through the Food and Drinks category while watching TV with my family at night. I can see what people are eating (or want to eat) and it gives me inspiration to try different meals outside of my cooking comfort zone.

And nothing says out of my comfort zone like potpie. Gloopy texture, soggy puff pastry, and tasteless filling… not something that inspires me to dig in.

During one of my nightly scrolls, I stumbled upon the most beautiful picture of mushroom-thyme-lentil potpies from Fig & Honey. It was a combination of perfect lentil al dente texture, crisp puff pastry crust, and big Mediterranean flavors. And all I thought was, I want to make that one day. And Sunday was that day. My parents went out to dinner and left me to my own devices.

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It all starts with onions and carrots cooked over medium heat until they begin to soften.

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Next, I tossed in some cremini mushrooms and minced garlic. So far, so good!

When everything became softened and golden brown, I tossed in some cooked green/brown lentils.

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The original recipe calls for puy/beluga lentils… which I didn’t find, despite looking at two different grocery stores. I liked how the green lentils turned out in this recipe but if you have puy/beluga lentils, use them!

To make the sauce, add in some vegetable stock, soy sauce, tomato paste, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

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And some nice dry red wine. For quality control, sample some of the wine (you don’t want to add bad wine to something you would feed your family and friends, right?).

To thicken up the sauce, I stirred in a little bit of cornstarch mixed with water – the perfect potpie filling!

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Assembly is simple.

In a oven-safe casserole, pour in the filling.

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Top the filling with puff pastry circle, cut a steam vent, brush the top with a beaten eggs and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.

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Bake for 20 minutes.

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And then it’s time to eat!

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A perfectly delicious vegetarian take on a comfort food classic. It was a great way to begin Vegetarianism 3.0 Week 2!

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Your Pinterest obsessed friend,

C

Mushroom-Lentil Potpie

  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of olive oil

3 small carrots, diced small

1 small onion, chopped finely

1 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

3 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1½ cups green/brown lentils, cooked via package instructions

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1½ tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup dry red wine

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted for 2-3 hours in the fridge

1 egg, beaten

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to the temperature on the puff pastry box.

2. In a large high-sided sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in carrots and onions and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add mushrooms and garlic to the carrot-onion mixture and cook until the mushrooms soften, shrink, and begin to turn brown, about 4-5 minutes.

4. When the mushrooms become soft, add in the lentils, stock, tomato paste, soy sauce, wine, oregano, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. While the mixture is heating up, combine cornstarch with a little bit of water to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the potpie filling and continue to heat the filling until it starts to thicken. Once thick, remove the filling from the heat. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

5. Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and unfold it. Carefully flatten the seams, ensuring that they stay together. Using your casserole dish as a guide, cut out a circle that will be used to top your potpie.

6. To assemble the pie: fill the casserole dish with the filling and top with the puff pastry circle. Cut a steam vent in the top to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush the top of the puff pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and puffed. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Fig & Honey.

Banana Almond Oatmeal

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Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a great weekend – I know I did!

I slightly overindulged this weekend (hey, it was Valentine’s Day), so I decided that I was going to start this new week with a healthy breakfast. An easy breakfast. A delicious breakfast. A breakfast that would use up the single banana that was just sitting in my fruit bowl…

So I whipped up some Banana Almond Oatmeal. Super easy, super healthy, and super quick.

All you need is some rolled oats, a banana, some sliced almonds, water, and a microwavable bowl. It’s so simple, it shouldn’t be called a recipe.

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I know what you’re thinking – why use rolled oats when there are a myriad of ready-to-cook instant oatmeals available in the supermarket? Rolled oats can be cooked quickly in the microwave and have a better texture than instant oatmeal (in my opinion!). I also like having a blank, unsweetened canvas so I can go hog wild with all the mix-ins! Plus, I always have rolled oats in the house to bake with… hey, convenience is a big factor for busy mornings!

To make the oatmeal, you just need to combine ½ cup of rolled oats and enough water to just cover the oats by a ¼ of an inch. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until the oatmeal begins to bubble up.

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Then all you need to do is top the oatmeal with sliced banana and almonds. If you like your oatmeal a little sweeter, you can add a drizzle of honey!

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I hope you enjoy this easy, fiber-packed breakfast!

Your oatmeal lovin’ friend,

C

Banana Almond Oatmeal

  • Servings: one person
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

½ cup rolled oats

Water

1 small banana, sliced

¼ cup sliced almonds

Steps:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, add in the oats and cover them with water by a ¼ of an inch. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until the oatmeal begins to bubble up.
  2. Top the oatmeal with the sliced banana and sliced almonds.

Enjoy!

Baked Eggs with Kale

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You know that I love kale.

You also know that I love baked eggs.

So it makes perfect sense that at some point I would stick both of them together.

That point was Sunday night after I got home from the airport… I was hungry, cranky, and had absolutely nothing in the fridge except eggs, kale, and butter. It was fate!

I popped an oven-proof gratin with a pat of butter into a pre-heated 350° oven.

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And let it sit in there for a minute or two until the butter is melted and slightly bubbly. Remove the cookie sheet (with the dish on it) from the oven and toss in some washed chopped kale that I quickly steamed in the microwave for 45 seconds.

Then, using a fork (or a spoon or spatula) to make two wells in the kale.

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And (gently) plop in some eggs. I used two, but you can just do one if you want! I sprinkled everything with a little salt and pepper.

Then pop the pan back into the oven for 12-15 minutes…

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… and viola! Perfect baked eggs and crispy kale. A perfect late night dinner or a unique brunch item.

 

Enjoy, kiddos!

Your baked egg and kale lovin’ friend,

C

Baked Eggs with Kale

  • Servings: one person
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

2 cups of kale, washed and chopped

2 large eggs

1-2 pats of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Toss butter into an oven-proof gratin dish placed on a cookie sheet (for easy removal from the oven) and pop the cookie sheet into the preheated oven and bake 1-2 minutes until the butter is melted.
  3. Microwave the kale for 45 seconds until just wilted. Place kale into the gratin dish and make two wells for the eggs. Gently place eggs into the wells, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place the cookie sheet back into the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the eggs are set.
  4. Serve immediately – enjoy!

 

Nutritional Information (1 serving):

245 calories Ÿ• 13gm carbohydrates Ÿ• 3gm fiber Ÿ• 18gm protein Ÿ• 15gm fat Ÿ• 6gm saturated fat Ÿ• 191mg sodium •Ÿ 434mg cholesterol Ÿ• 4mg iron Ÿ• 255mg calcium

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

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Confession #1: This isn’t my recipe. It’s a photo step-by-step of a recipe that Clinton Kelly did on The Chew. We (AKA my mother and myself) made some minor tweaks, but kept the recipe basically the same. You can find the full recipe here!

 

Confession #2: I am taking a big step and trying to use my camera in the “Manual” mode, which makes me slightly unsure of myself (but the pictures look better?).

 

This recipe starts with the veggie portion of the dish.

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Finely slice up some red bell pepper and some scallions (or green onions… whatever you like to call them!). I know that I call this Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, but the peppers add not only a little bit of color, but a nice sweetness and some good nutrition!

Then grab yourself some broccoli florets.

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Or, as they are technically called, the trees.

Add the peppers to the broccoli and steam them until they are just starting to become tender.

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While the veggies are steaming, combine a mixture cornstarch, salt, and pepper.

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And dredge the slices of chicken breast in it. When they are all coated, let them hang out while the oil heats.

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When the pan is sufficiently heated, toss in the chicken. This is approximately two large chicken breasts cut into slices, which is pretty much almost overcrowded in this pan.

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But not to worry! This is a stir-fry.

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So grab your tongs and stir the chicken around until they become lightly golden brown.

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When the chicken has slightly browned, pour in the delicious sauce!

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And this is what I love about cornstarch in sauces – look how beautifully glossy everything becomes!

All that’s left is to toss into the veggies.

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And then the scallions.

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And serve over brown rice (or any rice you like).

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Delicious, nutritious, and quick… perfect for your busy school nights!

 

I hope you enjoy this yummy dish and have an absolutely wonderful Labor Day!

C

Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

As much as I like to (and will) eat the same thing for dinner 4 days in a row, there comes a time when I can’t eat another bowl of chili or piece of grilled chicken. For me, leftovers provide endless possibilities to be transformed into something awesome (and so not boring).

Like my Greek Grilled Chicken.

For Fourth of July, I cooked up enough for 12 people when there were only four people coming over… in addition to hamburgers and hot dogs. Needless to say, I had a lot of chicken left over.

So for lunch, I decided to whip up an easy sandwich that used up my leftovers and gave new life to plain old grilled chicken. 

Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches.

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Pesto + chicken + tomato + amazing bread = yumminess that can be consumed one-handed as you finish all the work for your summer class!

And it started with good bread. 

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I bought this amazing whole wheat sourdough bread at the farmer’s market in town and it is probably my new favorite food product. Nutty, tangy, and just perfect for sandwiches. 

Then you spread a generous layer of pesto on each slice.

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I love how the green of the pesto looks against the nutty brown of the bread. 

When both sides are thoroughly pestoed… 

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Slice up some tomatoes (another farmer’s market purchase!).

Layer a couple of slices on one side of the bread.

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I like thick slices of tomato on my sandwiches.

On the other side of the bread, 

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place some slices grilled chicken. 

Then step back and admire your progress. 

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Yum!

Because both the chicken and tomatoes have moisture in them, if I put this sandwich together and took a bite, something would inevitably fall out or the sandwich would slide out of place. So I needed something that was slightly rough and dry as a buffer zone. 

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And nothing does the trick like some mixed greens. This is a mix of baby kale, baby swiss chard, and baby spinach. Divine!

Then you put a lid on it!

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Hello completed sandwich!

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Look at all those beautiful layers.

Cut in half.

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Oh. My. Goodness. 

Lunch nirvana. 

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Perfect with a side of cut-up tomatoes (or if you have them, some hot French fries…).

 

Enjoy!

C

 

Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

  • Servings: one person
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

¼ – ½ a grilled chicken breast, sliced thin

½ a tomato, sliced

1 tablespoon of pesto, homemade or from a jar

A handful of mixed greens, washed and dried thoroughly

2 slices of very good bread

 

Steps:

Spread pesto on both slices of bread. On one slice of bread, layer tomato slices. On second slice of bread, place chicken slices. Add mixed greens. Put the sandwich together, slice in half. Enjoy with a side salad, cut-up raw veggies, or some French fries!

Fajita Burritos

I love Mexican food. I used to hate Mexican food, but as I experimented with flavors and ingredients these past two years, I have changed my mind. Now it is my favorite quick weeknight dinner option, for it packs a big flavor punch in a short amount of time.

I also like how it is a great option to use up leftovers, like grilled steak and chicken… which is what my family did this weekend when we made fajita burritos.

Fajita burritos combine my two favorite things – fajita fixins’ (peppers, onions, and meat) and burritos elements (the warm, soft tortilla and spicy refried beans).

My mom made the peppers and onions, with a little thyme.

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I could probably eat this whole entire bowl by itself. Yum, yum, yum.

But my favorite part of burritos (and Mexican food in general) is the beans. Refried beans can be slightly caloric and have a higher fat content, which sort of cancels out their great fiber, protein, and vitamin content. So not awesome.

But Ellie Krieger (TV RD) has a quick and easy version that keeps all the flavor and texture of refried beans, but keeps it on the healthier side. I adapted her recipe a little bit, but the methodology is the same!

Get yourself some black beans… which is my first departure from Ellie’s recipe.

BLACK BEANS

But first, let’s take a moment of silence to mourn the loss of Wegmans from my life. This is the last Wegmans item left in my pantry. *sob*

Wash and drain the beans and then set them aside.

In a big skillet (preferably with higher sides), cook onion and garlic together over medium heat until they are tender, about 3 minutes.

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Add in some chili powder… and forget to snap a photo.

Dump in the black beans.

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Stir them around and let them cook, about 1 minute.

Then grab a cold one.

BEER

This is what I have in my fridge, but you can use any medium-bodied beer.

And pour in about ⅔ of a cup into the mixture.

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Let the beans slowly simmer in the beer until they are warmed through and tender.

Then grab your wooden spoon, spatula, or potato masher, take a deep breath, shake out your arms, and start mashing.

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Black beans, while being tender, can be slightly challenging to mash. Just be patient and keep at it until you reach the consistency you want.

I like mine chunky.

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If your beans are looking a little dry, you can add a splash of water, chicken broth, or some of the beer to loosen it slightly.

Then place in a pretty bowl so that your family can enjoy it for dinner!

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It is a great vegetarian burrito filling option…

But it does play very well with leftover steak and chicken.

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And a perfect element to any burrito bar!

This is my fajita burrito!

FAJITA BURRITO

All my favorite elements wrapped in a warm tortilla.

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Perfect with some salad and a cold beer.

 

It was a perfect weekend night dinner (and a great party option as well!). Enjoy!

Your refried bean loving friend,

C

Adaptation of Ellie Krieger's Refried Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well

1 teaspoon chili powder

⅔ cup medium-bodied beer, like an ale

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Steps:

1. In a large, high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium heat.

2. When oil is hot, add in onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

3. Add chili powder to onion and garlic and cook for about one minute, or until fragrant.

4. Add black beans to skillet and cook for about one more minute.

5. Pour in beer and let the beans warm through and become tender, about 5 minutes.

6. Mash beans with the back of a wooden spoon, spatula, or potato masher. Add more beer, water, or chicken broth to moisten if they are getting to dry. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve alongside your favorite Mexican dishes or in burritos, taco, or enchiladas.

Farro

As a graduate student, I have a limited budget and limited time to create wonderful, healthy meals. Thus, my eating routine is centered on family-sized portions of easy meals that can sit in the fridge for a week. After 4 weeks of eating chili, roasted chicken breasts, and rice and beans, I was bored. I longed for holiday break were my mom made wonderful, diverse meals every night. I needed to get out of my food funk, and fast!

While strolling through Wegman’s at an obscenely early hour on Saturday, I came across a product that I thought existed in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fairway markets. It was the mythical grain, FARRO!

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I love farro because when combined with beans/lentils, it becomes a complete protein (hooray for Meatless Monday options!). It also has a very pleasing texture and structure, which is perfect for use as a cold salad base. Since cold salads can hang out in the fridge and require minimal reheating, they are a perfect dinner option for this busy grad student. My find allowed me to dump the chili fixings for the produce and Asian aisles of the store – it was time to get out of my dinnertime rut.

My mother has two signature farro salad recipes – one is a riff on a basic pasta salad and the other is a take on the classic wheatberry salad with dried cranberries. I love the “pasta salad” farro recipe (with its shredded bell pepper and green beans), but I decided to take my dish to the Far East and put an Asian spin on my dinner.

My Asian Farro Salad starts with a package of farro cooked according to the box (or the bag, whichever kind you have at your local store) directions.

While that was cooking, I cut up and steamed a ½ pound of broccoli (cut into small pieces) and a ¼ pound of green beans (I cut them in half). When they were cooked slightly and bright green, I dumped them into the biggest bowl I possessed.

A small side note – I recommend using a HUGE bowl for this. I have a small problem with underestimating the volume of farro when it is done cooking (it puffs up slightly), so it is better to have more room than less. And we continue on…

I julienned two bell peppers (minus a bit… cooking makes me hungry) and two carrots, tossing them into the bowl alongside the broccoli and the green beans. When the farro was done, I dumped that into the bowl too. The dressing is super simple and can be altered to your tastes. I do a ¼ of a cup of olive oil, a ⅛ of a cup of low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 clove of finely minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. Whisk vigorously and pour over the salad and toss thoroughly. I garnished my salad with some chopped scallions – chopped, roasted peanuts would also work well too!

 

Here is a picture (or several) of the final result!

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A close-up!

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Ready to eat!

 

Enjoy, everyone!

C