Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

There are some things that I really wish I was interested in. Like cricket, football or the stock market.

This is mostly because I like to have something to say about everything, but when these topics are brought up…I’ve got nothin’.

I also really wish I was into astrology. Like, actually believed in it.

I’ve tried…I started reading my Astrology Zone forecast at the beginning of the month and have managed to find some tenuous links between what was predicted for me and my fellow lionesses and what has actually happened. But my trusty internal skeptic is kind of a loud-mouthed biatch.

I am, however, beginning to fully buy this Mercury in retrograde business.

For the past few weeks I’ve been seriously struggling in the inspiration and writing departments. While this is probably due to a number of other, more earthly things, I’m going to go ahead and blame it on an astrological issue.

If you’re looking to make excuses for your poor communication skills over the past few weeks, read more about this MIR beast here or here.

Something good that’s come out of these chilly July days is my daily reinvention of the warm salad.

Healthy, satisfying and endlessly adaptable – it makes the perfect lunch or slack dinner if you’ve got access to a large skillet. I’ve been using lots of warm grains, wilt-able greens (like kale and spinach), and quick cooking vegetables (like corn, zucchini and snow peas.)

This salad was one of my favorites – a nod to the summer weather in the northern hemisphere with the zucchini and peas, but served on the warm side to keep me toasty on cool Sydney winter days. If fresh peas aren’t an option, frozen work fine too.

It’s a simple combination, but the Parmesan and a generous amount cracked pepper really give it that extra (boom boom) pow.

Put an egg on it to make it a dang fine meal.

Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

– 1 cup cooked farro
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 medium zucchini, grated on a box grater
– 1 cup shelled peas (or frozen and thawed)
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– salt, to taste
– a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper

To cook farro: place 1 cup farro in a pot with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, covered for about 15-20 minutes until tender and little chewy. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.

If using fresh peas, blanch them first in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and run under cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add grated zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the zucchini is heated through and softened. Stir in peas and cook for 1 minutes.

Stir in farro. If the farro is room temperature or cold, cook for 1-2 minutes until warmed through.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and heaps of cracked pepper. Serve warm, at room temp or cold.


Warm White Bean, Spinach and Herb Salad with Sumac

It’s Monday. How you livin’?

I’m living slow… Living like the biggest thing I accomplished yesterday was finishing season 2 of Downton Abbey (dang, WWI was an emotional roller coaster!) Living like I was so lazy yesterday that it’s taken the majority of my Monday to pull me out of my laziness slump and get my shizzle together.

I’m getting there.

Real talk: inspiration has been escaping me lately – in writing and in food. I’ve been doing my very best to work through it, but other things have been majorly clouding my head. Important things. Real life things.

But it’s time to get back on track!

Where to turn when I need to look at my crisper drawer with fresh eyes? To the badass vegetable master himself, Yotam Ottolenghi. Half an hour flipping through Plenty can work wonders – with beautiful photos and some fearless veggie cooking, I’m feeling the spark again already.

Warm White Bean, Spinach and Herb Salad with Sumac
inspired by Ottolenghi’s Plenty

– 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (or 1-14oz./400-gram can), rinsed and drained
– olive oil
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced on a microplane
– 4 spring onions or scallions thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon chili flakes
– 3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chopped parsley
– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro/coriander
– 1/4 cup crumbled feta
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1/2-1 tablespoon sumac
– salt & pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large pan. Add white beans and cook for 4 minutes, stirring only once or twice allowing them to turn golden in places.

Stir in garlic, scallions, chili flakes, spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally – allowing spinach to wilt down. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

Top with parsley, coriander and feta. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with sumac. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

This dish was inspired by:
– 2/3 of a leftover roast chicken
This recipe by Martha Stewart
– My gorgeous new cast iron French oven. (It’s turquoise!) Some girls love shoes, I obsess over sturdy, enameled cookware.

Unfortunately, the chipotle in adobo sauce that Martha’s recipe calls for isn’t easy to come by in Oz, so I made a few easy adjustments.

I thought about smuggling a couple of cans of the smoked pepper-and-sauce combo in my checked luggage when coming back from the States. These thoughts were quickly followed by an elaborately imagined scenario in which the contraband goods exploded all over my luggage due to altitude pressure or something. Sooo, they didn’t make the trip. To compensate, I managed to bring back some air travel-friendly chipotle Tabasco sauce instead. Happy days!

For the chicken, I really wanted that smokiness of the chipotle – but didn’t want too much heat, so I used a little of my Tabasco, along with some barbeque sauce and smoked paprika.

The whole thing cooks up pretty quickly (especially if you’re using leftover cooked chicken) but it gets even better after it’s simmered for a while or sits overnight in the fridge. You can easily double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers in small portions.

I used the chicken to smother some rice, kale and roasted squash – making a warm Tex-Mex salad of sorts. It would also be awesome as part of a tostada or taco situation.

Or you could just eat it cold with a spoon every time you wander past the fridge…or something.

Tex-Mex Chipotle BBQ Chicken
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
– 1 14 ounce/400 gram can tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
– 1-2 tablespoons chipotle Tabasco sauce
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

In a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in paprika and cook for 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes (if using whole canned tomatoes, break them up with a wooden spoon in the pot), BBQ sauce, chipotle Tabasco, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and heat it through, about 2 minutes.

Warm Tex-Mex Salad (serves 2)
– 1 cup of chopped kale
– 1/2 cup cooked rice
– 1 cup roasted squash (you could also use roasted carrot, sweet potatoes, peppers, etc.)
– 1/2 an avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1/4 cup chopped coriander/cilantro
– 1 tablespoon crumbled feta or queso fresco
– olive oil

Wilt kale in a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil. Toss warm kale, rice and squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Divide into two bowls and spoon on warm chicken mixture. Top with avocado, fresh coriander and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.