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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!

farro

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

heirloom

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

scallops

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.

chicken

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!

campari

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.

peppers

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.

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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.

photo-2

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.

parchment

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.

photo-6

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!

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