Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cheesy Baked Farro

If you have never had Farro (FAHR-OH) before, it's considered an "ancient grain." It cooks up similar to oatmeal and rice in that it requires a lot of liquid. 3 parts liquid to 1 part Farro.

I bought a huge honkin' bag of it at Costco on a whim several months ago. I've been using it as a quick dinner or snack. I tried it savory and sweet. I think it might make an interesting pudding if I could think of a recipe for it. Something like rice pudding.

For today, I cut the recipe in half...well, tried to. The sauce and cheese COMPLETELY overwhelm the Farro before it's baked, so I did use 6 cups broth to 2 cups Farro. We will see if that was a good idea when it comes out of the oven.

Make sure you let this "age" before serving. Otherwise the farro is completely overwhelmed by the cheese. From: Giada de Laurentiis

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups warm whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups faro or barley, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
Olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For the sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 8 minutes (do not allow the mixture to boil). Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the farro: In a large bowl, add the cheeses and stir to combine. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and reserve. In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the farro, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the faro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, if necessary. Add the farro, thyme, and sauce to the bowl with the cheese. Stir until combined and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake until the top is golden brown and forms a crust, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Written as is, I think the recipe lacks something -- although, I used balsamic vinegar and not sherry vinegar. My neighbor suggested more acid. I could try a sharper balsamic or a different vinegar all together. What I did do was use the quick preserved lemons from the other day and that TOTALLY made the salad.

Worth another try; and worth a play. I'd try mint in this the next time. From: The Minimalist

2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1-inch cubes or balls (cut over a bowl to catch the juice and reserve it)
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup finely diced or crumbled Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese
1/2 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped.

1. Combine the watermelon, tomato, cheese, scallions and salt in a bowl.

2. Whisk or blend together about 2 tablespoons of the watermelon juice, oil, vinegar and cayenne. To serve, dress the salad with this mixture and garnish with cilantro. Do not refrigerate and serve within 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eggplant with Red Bell Pepper and Quick Preserved Lemons

This is really two recipes, but they go together to make one dish. It's light, flavorful, and takes maybe an hour to make from first cut to landing on a plate -- as long as you make the quick preserved lemons ahead of time. From: The Minimalist

Recipe #1
Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper

1-2 eggplants
1-2 red bell peppers
olive oil

Trim and cube the eggplant. Sprinkle liberally with salt (this will sweat the eggplant) and set aside. Trim and cube the red bell pepper. Wait 10-15 minutes.  Rinse the eggplant well. Add olive oil to hot pan. Sautee eggplant and red bell pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 - 1/2 cup quick preserved lemons.

Recipe #2
Quick Preserved Lemons

4 organic, unwaxed lemons -- you really want to go for organic because you ARE going to eat the peel/if the lemons are waxed, you will have to scrub the wax off...good luck!
2 T sugar
1 T salt (Mark Bittman calls for Kosher Salt, but I refuse to use Kosher Salt when I've used plain ol' Morton's my entire life)

Dice and seed lemons. Mix with sugar and salt in some container. Let set at least 30 minutes before using.