Weekly Winner: The Perfect Answer to “Polar Vortex 2 – The Sequel” in Chiberia

2015/01/img_1524-0.jpgThis is the type of soup I would usually save for a dinner, possibly even a Sunday Supper. However, within the past three days here in Chicago the daytime temps have hovered around zero and we won’t even discuss the windchill – minus 20 to 30 have been the norm with howling winds. You need something substantial to keep you going through that kind of weather. You need soup. But not some wimpy, pureed, vegetable-based soup. You need meat!

Having said all that, it is also January which means my annual attempt to eat healthier and lighter has also kicked in. What a conundrum! How will I satisfy my need for hearty sustenance with my desire for more veggies and healthy stuff? The answer: Beef and Farro Soup. Yes, it has beef. But it also is loaded with carrots, celery, tomatoes, KALE, and my new favorite grain, farro.

I got the recipe from a recent issue of Food & Wine and while it does take quite a while to prepare, it is super easy to make. And an added bonus is while you are hunkered down in the house waiting for the temps outside to inch into the double-digits (which I’m still waiting for, by the way), the house smells amazing!

Beef-and-Farro Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 9 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 head of garlic, pierced all over with a knife
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 leek, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Procedure:

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil.  Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Add half to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate.  Repeat with the remaining meat.
  2. Pour off all of the oil from the casserole.  Add 1 cup of the stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits.  Add the remaining 8 cups of stock along with the meat, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Stir in the farro and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook over moderate heat until the farro is almost tender, 20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, leek, celery, carrots, kale, miso and paprika.  Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the garlic and herb sprigs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls.  Garnish with cheese and serve.

 

Weekly Winner: Superfood Salvation

Travel wreaks havoc with my best intentions. I always think I will make wise choices while traveling and visiting my family but alas, it never happens. Between running through airports to grab a quick bite and festive reunions with too many tasty temptations (and plenty of wine) around I always fall way off my healthy eating track. So on my first full day back at home, I needed salvation. I craved something that inherently tasted healthy and would reset my system.

IMG_0571.JPGEnter Seared Salmon with Lemony Barley Salad With Kale Pesto.  The seared salmon was just that:  salmon seared with salt and pepper.  Therefore there is no recipe for that.  The Barley Salad however comes from Food & Wine Magazine.  I adore salmon and it is always my go-to thing to prepare when I want something healthy.  The barley salad was a total surprise awhile ago.  I made it for a client, tried it, and adored it.  The two together saved me.  Salvation on a plate!

Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley (about 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup currants

1 tablespoon minced shallot

6 ounces kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into small pieces (4 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the barley in salted boiling water until al dente, 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat, stirring, until lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the currants and shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the shallot is golden, about 3 minutes. Scrape into the barley and add the pine nuts.
  4. In a food processor, pulse two-thirds of the kale with the lemon juice until chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until smooth. Season with salt. Scrape the pesto into the barley. Add the remaining kale leaves, season with salt and toss well. Serve.

Weekly Winner: My First Foray into Farro … Fabulous!

Tis the season.  What season you ask?  Marathon training season.  Oh good God, not for me!  But for several of the clients that I am currently cooking for.  Now, while that means different things to different people, what it means for my clients is that they are looking for healthy, filling (but not heavy) recipes to power them through the added mileage they will be putting in.  Some want carbs, some do not — but all want seriously healthy, tasty food.

Of course kale is popular as is quinoa.  I’ve made more quinoa in the last few months than I ever thought I’d make in a lifetime.  I’ve gained a new-found appreciation for the ancient grain.  It’s basically a blank canvas.  But I digress.  This entry is not about quinoa but about farro.  One of my clients asked if I did much with it and I had to admit that I did not.  But that made me curious.  Then Martha came to the rescue.  Martha Stewart that is.  Not her personally, but her magazine Martha Stewart Living.  It was there that I found this recipe for Kale and Farro Salad with Feta.

Kale and FarroWhen I found myself with a free afternoon on the same day that my favorite Green City Market was going on, I knew what I had to do.  Test the recipe!  All for myself.  Dang it was tasty.  Really quite extraordinarily good.  The farro was wonderfully toothsome and nutty.  All around an incredibly satisfying dish and one that you just couldn’t help but feel good about eating.  I immediately put it on my marathoners’ menus and have a feeling I’ll be making a lot of this salad in the coming months.

And don’t worry — I’m proof that you don’t need to be a marathoner (or even a runner) to enjoy this recipe.

Kale and Farro Salad with Feta

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

2 cups packed torn Tuscan kale leaves (about 2 ounces)

1/4 red onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup packed mint leaves, thinly sliced, plus whole small leaves for serving

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup crumbled feta, preferably French

Procedure:

Cover farro with 3 inches of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until grains are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain and let cool completely.

Transfer farro to a large bowl and add kale, onion, sliced mint, lemon zest and juice, and oil. Toss until farro is well coated. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with feta. Let stand 30 minutes before serving, topped with small mint leaves. Salad can be stored in refrigerator up to 2 days.

Weekly Winner: In Desperate Need of a Salad — But Kale??

Kale SaladI seriously never, in a million years, thought that I would be posting a Weekly Winner recipe that involves raw kale.  Seriously, it was not going to happen!  But then it did.

Generally, I do not have anything against kale if it is cooked in something.  Raw, it is just too much.  But then I desperately craved a salad.  In this unrelenting-never ending-won’t-even-get-to-freezing winter that we continue to endure here in Chicago, I have burned out on every soup recipe I own.  I wanted a salad!  But alas, the winter continues and therefore the produce offering is still on the slim side.  Decent tomatoes are hard to come by and the lettuces are all still looking a bit suspect.

As it so happened, I clipped this recipe from Eating Well magazine (go figure!) and thought, “How bad could it be?” I mean, it does have bacon, blue cheese and potatoes in it.  I figured it would be substantial and filling.  What I didn’t really expect was for it to be so dang good!  The combination of flavors was amazing — who thinks to combine honey-mustard and blue cheese??  That’s just crazy!!  But it works.  It really works.  Seriously, this will give any spinach salad a serious run for its money.  Try it and see if you don’t agree.

Kale Salad with Bacon-Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 3 pieces center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 Belgian endives, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup currants or sweetened dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, thyme and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread out on a large baking sheet (reserve the bowl). Roast the potatoes, stirring once or twice, until tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Place kale in the large bowl, add the hot potatoes and let stand for several minutes, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are warm but not hot.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, blue cheese, shallot, mustard, parsley and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the warm salad. Add bacon, endive and currants (or cranberries); toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Next Newer Entries