Sunday, July 13, 2014

Charlie Bird's Farro: Reset, revisit

I've come to the conclusion that going on vacation is the worst possible thing that anyone can do ever. Particularly when it's someplace so far removed from your daily life that you forget that work and responsibility and laundry and things that are not pizza & ice cream even exist. They are the song you skip on Pandora, the garnish in your cocktail that you toss aside, the commercials you fast-forward through when catching up on "Mad Men" "The Bachelorette." 

Unnecessary interruptions to the life you actually want to be living.

So when you arrive home with a suitcase haphazardly stuffed with dirty clothes that you now have to unpack and wash, and are faced with things like the gym and your Outlook inbox after five days out of the office (!!!), returning to normal feels impossible. 

"You mean I can't just go eat doughnuts now?" You think when confronted with your first work crisis -- a mere hour into your Monday morning.

Because on vacation, there are no problems.

There are doughnuts.

I realize that doughnuts are not exclusive to one specific city or region, and, in fact, are perhaps more prevalent in Los Angeles than elsewhere, but "doughnuts" as an idea feels less accessible after a trip that revolved around what could be entangled on the tines of your fork.

By nature, that moment seems reserved for adding insult to the injury of your return -- a post-vacation "detox" whereby you are supposed to eat "clean" and "vegan" or whatever form of self-flagellation you're inclined to employ when hitting the reset button.

Perhaps it's a three-day juice cleanse. Maybe it's gulping down sparkling grapefruit Perrier instead of sparkling wine.

And maybe, it's a farro salad inspired by one of your favorite meals during your vacation. Wholesome without edging into the punishment territory, and a reminder of a brief period of time when you experienced a world without responsibility. 

Charlie Bird's Farro with Pistachios, Mint and Parmesan
Adapted from the NY Times
Serves 4

Notes: The original version of this salad contained fava beans, but as these are now a scarce commodity in Los Angeles, I opted for shelled edamame to no adverse effects. I also omitted the tomatoes (mostly because I am loathe to buy them at the grocery store and couldn't make it to the farmer's market that day), and added in some thinly sliced fennel for kicks rather than the arugula requested. (Yes, I do realize I get "kicks" from weird things.) Finally, I was a bit less liberal with the salt and application of olive oil, and a bit more liberal with the thinly sliced radishes, as this salad was meant to help me recalibrate after a trip filled with all the things you'll find documented here.

1 cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed well
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup roasted pistachio nut meats
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, cooked
Freshly ground pepper, salt, to taste

In a medium pot, bring the apple cider and 2 cups water to a boil. Add the farro, salt and bay leaves, and simmer, uncovered, until the farro is tender (approximately 30 minutes) and the liquid evaporates. I found that the liquid actually evaporated before the farro was tender, so I added a bit more water as it was cooking along.

While the farro is doing its thing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large salad bowl. Add the warm farro and then let cool to room temperature if serving immediately. If not, refrigerate until ready to use. (Just be sure to let it come back to room temperature prior to serving - it's best when not too cold or too warm. Like Goldilocks.)

Just before you're ready to serve, toss the farro with the herbs, radish, fennel, edamame, parmesan, and pistachios. Season with freshly ground pepper. Add additional salt if needed.

1 comment:

Gastronomer said...

A belated welcome back to reality :) Now, go get a doughnut.