FOOD: Farro & kale make for a hearty entree
GOOD FOOD, GOOD LIFE
Free Press Food Columnist
Editor’s note: Telluride resident Christa Moran lives and breathes fresh food. Already an accomplished chef, after becoming a vegan in 2011, she’s dedicated her free time to creating original dishes in keeping with a diet void of animal products. Now, she’ll share her flavorful creations with you in “Good Food, Good Life,” a new monthly food column in the Grand Junction Free Press.
In April 2011, a good friend suggested I try a vegan diet when I was needing mental clarity. It wasn’t a far step from my eating habits, and so it was a simple experiment.
It resulted in an overwhelming food inspiration; there was no sense of restriction or limits. I was not only excited about food, I felt amazing. My body felt great, my energy was high, I slept better, healed faster…
For most of my life, I have been a student (formally and informally), an educator, and an enthusiast of the culinary arts. The recent change to a vegan diet surprised me as much as anyone else.
Now, each month I will share an original recipe with Free Press readers — to create and enjoy in your own kitchen.
FARRO AND KALE WITH ROASTED MUSHROOMS AND TOASTED WALNUTS
The nutty flavor and somewhat chewy texture of farro (related to wheat) make this dish hearty and satisfying enough to be the main event of a meal. The kale in this dish is massaged. Not only does this increase its digestibility, it results in a dense compound salad that leads one to consume larger quantities of raw dark greens. The meaty, browned mushrooms and the toasted walnuts contribute a richness which is balanced by the clean and lighter nature of the raw vegetables. This recipe can easily be halved, but you’ll love knowing you have some in the refrigerator for another meal! The farro can be cooked in advance and refrigerated. Serves 4-6 as a main entree.
2 cups farro, rinsed well and soaked overnight *
2-3 large bunches Tuscan kale, washed well, dried and stems removed
2-8 oz. packages of crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 small onion, finely diced
4 large cloves garlic, pressed (or more to taste)
5 oz. toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium avocado, sliced
Black pepper, freshly ground
Juice of 1 lemon
White balsamic vinegar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse the farro of its soaking liquid and place in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover by one inch and 1 1/2 tsp. of sea salt. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook farro until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain excess cooking liquid and place in a wide bowl to cool. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Meanwhile, toss the quartered mushrooms in 3 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. of sea salt. They shrink considerably so don’t add more salt than that. You can always add more later. Spread onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast until browned. Keep your eye on them and turn with a spatula part way through to get a nice caramelization on all sides. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Chop the kale into thin strips, about 1/4 inch, then chop crosswise 4 or 5 times. Having very small pieces makes it easier to massage and easier to chew. Place the kale in a very large bowl. Massage with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. sea salt for 5-8 minutes, or until the kale has reduced to about 1/3 to 1/2 of its original volume.
Add the farro, onion, garlic and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 the lemon juice and a sprinkle of the white balsamic vinegar (if using), taste, then adjust the acid to your liking. This makes the dish more like a salad with more cleansing properties. Occasionally, I enjoy this without much acid or any at all, resulting in something more savory. Cover and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes to let the flavors marry.
Before serving, toss in the roasted mushrooms and walnuts. Garnish with sliced avocado. Enjoy!
This keeps well in the refrigerator for one day.
This is excellent with finely chopped green garlic (if your lucky enough to find some at your farmers’ market in the spring), and many other fresh spring vegetables, like finely sliced tender raw asparagus!
*I like to sprout my grains before using. It increases the nutritional value and decreases the cooking time. Farro sprouts in a relatively short time after being soaked, about a day and a half. Soak it until it swells completely (1/2 a day or more), then drain, rinse, and let it sit on the counter. Rinse it 2-3 times throughout the day, draining well each time. I do this in a 1/2 gallon-wide mouth mason jar. It makes the soaking, rinsing and draining simple. You can buy screw-on lids with screens that are made for sprouting and fit mason jars. One’s hands, however, do a fine job. Or sprout in a bowl, use a sieve to do the rinsing, and make sure to drain well each time.
Christa Moran may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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