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Pesto + Farro

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I wasn’t going to post this recipe, since it was sort of just a scrambling together of the last of my summer ingredients (similar to last week’s post). But after sharing the photo below on social media, I had some requests for the recipe – and I would hate to disappoint my loyal readers – so here it is!


Pesto Farro with Roasted Tomatoes and Shrimp (serves 3-4)

  • 1 TB olive olive oil, plus 1 tsp
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (I used vine-ripened and cherry)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup homemade pesto, plus 1 TB
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan fit with a lid, heat 1 TB olive oil over a medium flame. Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds, then add chopped tomatoes. Toss tomatoes then cover and reduce heat to medium-low, cooking for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes have released enough juice to create a sauce.

Meanwhile, prepare farro. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tsp olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add farro and toast for about 3 minutes, then add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil, cooking for 8 minutes or until farro has reached a desired consistency. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the broth and set aside. In the empty pot, add 1/2 cup of the pesto and 1/2 a cup of the reserved broth; stir to combine into a sauce. Add the farro back into the pot and stir to coat.

Add the rest of the pasta water to the pan of tomatoes. Coat shrimp with remaining TB of pesto, then add to the pan with the fresh basil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Add farro to the pan and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with shaved Parmesan cheese.

I took a much-needed break from alcohol last night after my gluttonous reunion with my brother this past weekend in Fort Collins, CO (which, by the way, is an excellent town for beer aficionados, but also very cocktail and foodie friendly). If you’re looking for a proper pairing, try an acidic white like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. You could also pair it with a light red such as a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir or Carneros Merlot.

Tomato and Basil Forever

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It’s been a whirlwind week for me! Between packing up my apartment in San Francisco, moving into my new apartment in Napa, unpacking, furniture shopping, more unpacking, and exploring my new neighborhood, I barely had time to go grocery shopping until yesterday. Though, I did have a chance on Saturday to pick up some beautiful produce at the Napa Farmer’s Market: heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumber, basil, and lemons. These simple ingredients were the perfect inspiration for my first two home cooked meals in my new apartment!

Heirloom Tomato, Burrata, Basil Salad

  • 2-3 ripe heirloom tomatoes in various colors, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon cucumber, sliced
  • 3 oz fresh Burrata (I recommend Di Stefano)
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper


Arrange the tomato and cucumber slices on a platter, alternating between colors. Top with Burrata and basil, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Seared Scallops with Tomato Water, Lemon and Basil

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 1 TB safflower oil, or vegetable oil
  • 3 basil leaves, torn
  • squeeze of half a lemon


Start by making the tomato water. Place tomatoes in a small colander or mesh sieve over a bowl and salt generously. Let sit for 45 minutes, stirring and mashing occasionally. Then heat a nonstick pan over a medium-high flame. Once hot, add oil and heat for about a minute. Carefully add scallops and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another minute and a half. Transfer to a plate with a paper towel to get rid of excess oil, then place into a shallow bowl. Pour tomato water into the bowl, and top with basil and a squeeze of lemon. This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit, based on the ingredients I had on hand. I also didn’t have a sieve so I used a colander, which allowed more tomato seeds to seep through to the bowl – I didn’t mind, but some people may not like the texture.

Yellow and Red Tomatoes with Burrata and Farro

  • 1/3 cup cooked farro
  • 3-4 small yellow and red tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 oz Burrata
  • 4 basil leaves, julienned
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Prepare farro as directed. Place farro on a plate, then top with tomatoes, Burrata, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.


Grilled Lemon Basil Chicken

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB Gewürztraminer vinegar, or any good white wine vinegar
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • olive oil spray

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients. Pour marinade over chicken and seal in an air-tight bag or container, then refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, remove chicken from container and drip off excess marinade. Heat a gas grill or grill pan over a medium-high flame and spray generously with olive oil. Cook chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side, then check for doneness by slicing into the thickest part. If still pink, continue to cook for a few more minutes. Serve alongside tomatoes with Burrata and farro.

All of these dishes are fresh and light, and use many of the same ingredients. So as long as you don’t get sick of tomato, basil and Burrata (who would??), these easy meals are delicious, relatively inexpensive options when cooking for one. I suggest pairing with a dry Rose, Chenin Blanc, or my favorite summer cocktail: Campari and soda!


Turkey and Farro Stuffed Peppers

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I was lucky enough to have Sissy drop in for a night this past Sunday! Although she lives in LA, she frequently comes up to the Bay Area for meetings and to see her family, and usually we’re able to get together for dinner at the very least. On Sunday – since we’re both trying to be healthy and save money – I decided to cook for her! After giving her a variety of meals to pick from, we settled on turkey stuffed peppers. I looked at a few recipes on Yummly to get some inspiration and then put together my own concoction.

stuffed pepper

Turkey Stuffed Peppers (makes 4)

  • 1/2 cup dry pearled farro
  • 4 bell peppers (green or red)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 8 button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey (half thigh, half breast)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan or Mexican blend)

In a small pot, add farro to 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a low boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes at a low heat, or until farro has absorbed most of the water. Pour out any access water and set farro aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, chop tops off peppers and remove seeds and stem. Dice the tops of the peppers and add to a bowl with the zucchini and mushroom, then set aside.

sauteed veggies

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add garlic, onion, parsley and red pepper flakes and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until onions soften. Add zucchini, diced pepper, and mushrooms and continue to sauté for 3 minutes.

Add turkey, salt, cumin and oregano and sauté until turkey is browned. Add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add the farro and mix to combine, then remove from heat.

stuffed peppers

Place the whole peppers (with tops cut off) in a baking pan that is at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Carefully stuff the peppers, then pour the rest of the chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. Once done, top with shredded cheese and serve immediately. If you prefer your stuffed peppers to be more saucy, top with some warmed tomato sauce.

Sissy and I thought the peppers were great, but I could have added some more spice – maybe a serrano pepper would do just the kick. I served this meal two different wines: Red Car 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir and Melville 2012 Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills. Both wines worked well, but the herbal notes in the Melville lent to a better pairing for this hearty meal.


There are so many different ways to make stuffed peppers, but I have to say that I prefer farro to rice (surprise, surprise), and I love adding extra vegetables to the mix. What is your favorite way to prepare stuffed peppers? Share in the comments section!

Winter’s Cure: Toasted Farro Soup

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This post is dedicated to all my East Coast friends that are braving the miserably cold weather right now. It’s times like these that I’m grateful to be a Californian.


One of my favorite winter meals to make is a big pot of soup. It lasts the whole week, for lunches or dinners, and it tastes even better as the days go by. So when I spotted this Toasted Spelt Soup recipe in Bon Appetit (I know, I’m obsessed), I couldn’t resist. Of course, I replaced the spelt for Farro because I have a ton of it and it’s STILL my favorite grain. But other than that, I stayed pretty true to the recipe and I’m very pleased with the results.

Toasted Farro Soup with Escarole and White Beans (serves 8)

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely choppedBon Appetit
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4 pieces
  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 head escarole, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • shaved parmesan (for serving)

In a large food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse onion until finely chopped, then transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with fennel, carrot and celery, placing vegetables in the bowl with onion.

Heat 2 TB oil in a large pot. Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until golden brown – about 3 minutes. Add farro and cook, stirring often, for 3 more minutes.

Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened – about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 1 minute.

photo 2

Add broth to pot, bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, until faro is tender – about 70 minutes. Stir escarole and beans into soup and cook until escarole is wilted and beans are warmed through, about 4 minutes.

Serve soup drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan shavings. Cover and refrigerate remainder of soup to keep for up to four days.


Parchment Perfection

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I’ve been thinking about baking fish in parchment for a few months now, and last week I finally took the plunge. It’s actually quite simple, so I don’t know what I was waiting for! I did find some tips that suggest cutting the parchment into a heart shape and making small folds and twists, which I found worked much better than just folding it onto itself. And other than that little complicated bit, you can pretty much put together whichever ingredients you would normally cook with fish. I particularly like this combination of flavors:

Halibut en Papillote  (serves 1-2)

  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1 filet of halibut
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1/2 shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • small handful of parsley, coarsely chopped
  • small handful of basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a large piece of parchment, about 17×11, and fold in half from left to right. Cut a large heart shape, with the fold as the middle of the heart.


Coat a small sauté pan with olive oil spray and heat over a medium flame. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until somewhat softened, about 5 minutes.

Place the zucchini rounds on the right side of the heart. Coat the filet with olive oil, salt and pepper and lay on top of the zucchini. Top with the parsley and basil, then the shallots and garlic, and finally the lemon slices.

photo 3

Fold the left side of the heart over the fish and make small, overlapping folds along the edges. Once sealed along the sides, carefully lift up and pour the wine into the parchment. Twist the point of the heart together and carefully move to a baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and wait about a minute to open the parchment.

photo 4

I served this over some farro with sautéed tomatoes, basil and parmesan. You can make the farro while you prep and cook the fish. Once it’s cooked through, add in the tomatoes and a touch of olive oil and saute over low heat until the fish is ready. Before serving, add the basil and parmesan and stir for about 30 seconds until the cheese has melted. Serve in a shallow pasta bowl.


Using a large, wide spatula transfer the contents of the parchment (minus the lemons) on top of the farro. Serve immediately.

I had a glass of the wine that I used in this recipe, the Husch 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. It was actually a half bottle, which I usually purchase when using the wine for cooking. But I also love Husch wines so I was happy to sample some of it with my dinner – and it paired quite nicely!

Spicy Tomatoey Farro

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I had planned on going to the market last night and picking up some pork chops to grill, but the day got away from me – as did my motivation to drive anywhere. I was still craving meat and I remembered a spicy sausage that I had stowed away in the freezer a couple weeks ago. I also had some Campari tomatoes that only had a few days left in them before they started to get too soft, and some leftover kale that was beginning to look wilty. This may sound unappetizing, but it all came together deliciously with some garlic, shallots and of course, farro.


Spicy Farro with Tomatoes and Sausage (serves 2-4)

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 large spicy sausage, casing removed
  • 8 Campari tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 2-3 TB tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese and basil, for garnish

In a large, deep skillet heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame. Once hot, add garlic and smash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add red pepper flakes and shallots and saute for three minutes over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until browned – about five minutes.


Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook over medium-low heat until the liquids begin to release – about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, adding water by the 1/2 cup full every 10 minutes. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste each time you add the water to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and taste to adjust. Partially cover the skillet and continue to simmer.

While the skillet is partially covered, add 2 cups of water and farro in another pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, or until al dente. There should be a little water left in the pot, but just add the farro with the remaining water to the skillet with the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Increase the heat only slightly and continue to cook uncovered.


In the same pot that the farro was cooked in, boil 2 more cups of water. Add kale and par-boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the pot with tongs and chop into smaller pieces. Add to the skillet and stir to combine. Serve immediately in shallow pasta bowls with Parmesan and basil.

I was a Sober Sally last night, but if I were going to serve this with wine I would pour some Chianti. This light Tuscan wine would pair well with the spicy Italian flavors in the dish, and bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes. I’m looking forward to tasting some Chianti directly from the source when I visit Tuscany this summer!

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Now that I’m back on DietBet, you will notice a lot of upcoming posts on healthy meals and snacks that are easy to prepare. And today’s post is a perfect example! As some of you may have noticed, I have a healthy obsession for Farro and Dino kale – and who doesn’t love avocado? One of my favorite San Francisco pizza restaurants, Ragazza, makes an incredible kale salad with Farro, spring carrots, fennel and Green Goddess dressing. This morning I woke up with the urge to make a healthy salad to bring with me to work for lunch, and I just happened to have most of the ingredients to recreate the Ragazza salad (with some minor adjustments):

Kale and Farro Salad, serves 1

  • 1 bunch of Dino kale, slivered
  • 1/4 cup of pearled Farro, prepared as directed
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 10 1/4 inch cucumber slices, quartered
  • small handful of almond slices
  • 1/4 avocado, diced

Green Onion and Avocado Dressing (1 portion)

  • 1 green onion (scallion)
  • 1 TB avocado
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper

Blend dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth, adding the oil in a slow, steady drip. The dressing won’t keep more than a few days in the fridge, so it’s probably best to make a small amount. Add to salad ingredients and toss to combine, serving immediately.

kale salad

I love the crunch of this salad, juxtaposed with the smoothness of the avocado and the dressing. And the Farro adds a healthy amount of protein and whole grains, which is a plus. It’s also an incredibly filling salad, so it feels like an actual meal and not something that leaves you with cravings for bread or other starchy foods.

You could also double or quadruple the ingredients and make this salad for a large group, perhaps along side some soup or seared lamb. And if you do have fennel on hand, chop it into very thin slices and add to the salad. Either way, this is certainly a delicious way to stay healthy!

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