wheat berries, tomato, arugula & ricotta

frumento-arugula-tomato-ricotta-recipe

Farro is a whole grain that’s become a usual suspect in my every day cooking. I really like its creamy, barley-like texture and that it cooks in about 20 minutes. I make a risotto with farro along with cannellini beans. My kids usually clean their plates when I make it, so I’m guessing they like it a little.

But the other day I couldn’t find any farro in my kitchen and pulled out a bag of grains that my sister-in-law Liza brought me from a Portland farmer’s market. They came from Ayer’s Creek Farm , a small family farm in Oregon.

The bag was labeled “Frumento – Soft Red Wheat”. I couldn’t find much info after I Googled “frumento” other than it’s Italian for wheat or grain. I decided to treat the grains like wheat berries instead of the imported Italian semi-pearled (semi-pearled makes for quicker cooking) farro that I usually have, which meant I soaked them in a bowl on the counter for a few hours.

frumento-italian-wheat-berries ricotta-charred-tomatoes-recipe

I’d planned to roast a few supermarket vine-ripened tomatoes I had on the counter, my go-to method for tuning up their somewhat bland, out-of-season taste, but I forgot to turn on the oven. So I put the whole tomatoes over the gas flame for a few minutes until their skins were black and blistered.

I liked the combo of smoky tomatoes and the full flavor of the cooked frumento; definitely springier to the teeth than farro, but in a good way.

wheat-berries-ricotta-tomatoes-arugula-recipe

I’m glad I had  Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck on hand while researching and cooking this post. Maria is an expert on whole grains and I love her Mediterranean-influenced palate.

Lia at Nourish Network also has great info and a recipe for wheat berries – and lots of other healthy foods – on her site.

wheat berries with charred tomato, arugula & ricotta

Add some cooked beans like cannellini or chickpeas to the wheat berries for extra protein and nutrition.

Ingredients

  1. 1 ½ cups soft wheat berries
  2. Salt
  3. 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon prepared harissa or red chili flakes
  5. ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  6. Extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 2 or 3 small vine-ripened tomatoes or ¾ cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes
  8. 2 big handfuls baby arugula
  9. ½ cup fresh whole milk ricotta

Instructions

  1. Soak the wheat berries in enough water to cover, either overnight or before you go out for the day.
  2. Bring 3 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a saucepan; add the drained wheat berries. Simmer for about an hour, or until the wheat berries are plump and al dente when you test one. If they seem too hard, cook up to an additional 15-30 minutes, keeping in mind that when fully cooked they will retain a small bit of “chew”.
  3. Drain all but a small amount of water (1 or 2 tablespoons) from the wheat berries; put them back in the pan and stir in the garlic, smoked paprika if using, harissa or chili and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. If using fresh tomatoes, char them directly over a gas flame on your stovetop or under a hot broiler, turning them until their skins are blackened and blistered. Chop into rough pieces and add them (or the canned tomatoes) to the wheat berries.
  5. Transfer the wheat berries to a serving bowl and toss with the arugula; taste and season with salt if needed. Dollop with spoonfuls of ricotta and drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/01/wheat-berries-tomato-arugula-ricotta/

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Cucumber and lime. Just the thought of those two ingredients refreshes me. Plus they go together like …. bread and butter, gin and tonic, sugar and spice.

It’s hotter than an Inferno where I live, which is typical. We went straight from our schizophrenic spring weather to a sweltering heatwave within a week’s time. Ready or not, it’s time to let the season guide my menu cravings.

I turned to one of my favorite hot-weather flavor profiles – tart citrus; fresh, spicy chiles and cool-crunchy cucumbers. To me, that combination points in the direction of Asia and India.

I found the perfect recipe for what I had in mind with this Indian cucumber salad, Khamang Kakdi, in How to Cook Indian, one of my newest cookbooks. I think this book will become a definite favorite of mine. It’s huge, with a broad collection of easy and delicious-sounding recipes. There are no photos at all, but somehow that isn’t a problem since the information is so thorough and the design so appealing.

I love the utter simplicity of this salad. With just a few spices, a hit of citrus, toasty peanuts and a sweet exotic touch of coconut, cucumbers are transformed into something complex and unordinary.

Be warned, it’s a slightly addictive little salad.

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  2. 1 Serrano pepper or 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
  4. 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil (or olive oil)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the cucumber, chile pepper, peanuts, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saute pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle and pop, stir in the cumin, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons coconut. Turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the mustard seed mixture over the cucumbers and toss everything together. Taste to make sure it's salty-sweet enough for your taste.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe in How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor

http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/cool-spicy-cucumbers-with-peanuts-lime/

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Goat Cheese

Not-too-spicy vegetarian chili

Not-too-spicy vegetarian chili

We usually have at least one vegetarian sharing Thanksgiving with us, so I like to have a an interesting meatless main dish on the table along with some traditional side dishes – that way no one feels like they’re missing anything.
And personally, while I like trying a new turkey preparation every year – whether it’s brining, stuffing or not stuffing, oven-roasting or grilling, my enthusiasm for the bird wanes when it lands on the table. I’d much rather fill up on the colorful array of vegetables instead.
Plus, everyone knows that all Thanksgiving fixings taste better the next day, so having a pot of chili on hand is a good thing, vegetarian or not. There’s nothing wrong with some tasty chili in bowl, with a gravy-drenched turkey leg on top.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Goat Cheese

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium red onion, sliced
  3. 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  4. 3 crushed garlic cloves
  5. 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika
  6. 1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper and ground chipotle
  7. 4 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (about 2 large)
  8. Vegetable stock or water
  9. 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  10. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  11. 1 (14-ounce) can black beans
  12. 1 (14-0unce) can pinto beans
  13. 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  14. Warm tortillas

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large (6-quart) pan or stockpot. Add the onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown; stir in the salt and garlic and cook about 1 minute or until the garlic smells good.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices and ground black and chipotle pepper, stirring to dissolve in the oil. Add the sweet potatoes and pour over enough stock or water just to cover them. Cover the pot and cook over medium heat until tender (not mushy), about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the mustard, maple syrup and beans (including their liquid) to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered another 10 minutes or so to blend the flavors. If you like your chili more soupy, add more stock.
  4. Serve in bowls topped with some cheese with warm tortillas alongside.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/11/sweet-potato-black-bean-chili-with-goat-cheese/