Monday, June 25, 2012

Farrro Out! Farro, Green Bean and Fennel Salad with Tuna

I have been hearing a lot lately about farro. Since it is considered an “ancient grain” one would think that this “ancient dietitian” would have cooked with it before. But I had not…so now I can say that I have…and if you have not yet had a Farro Out Experience, I think it is time you did.

Farro is quite a nutritious whole grain. Since it is high in protein and fiber, it might keep you feeling full longer and lessen blood sugar spikes after eating it. The texture is a bit chewy, and the flavor could be considered nutty and maybe a tad sweet.

Like many whole grains, farro takes a while to cook, slow and low heat until the grain becomes tender. It is totally worth the wait, but if in a rush, any quick cooking whole grain would work with this recipe including quinoa and couscous.

This salad is now one of my favs…the combination of crunchy green beans and fennel, juicy tomatoes and tuna, briny olives and chewy farro really makes for a great meal!

Have you tried farro? 

Farro, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Tuna 
(recipe adapted from June issue of Cooking Light Magazine)

½ cup uncooked whole grain farro
¾ tsp. salt, divided
2 cups cut green beans, cut in 2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp. fresh black pepper
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ black olives, coarsely chopped
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cans tuna, drained

1. Combine farro, ½ tsp. salt and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil; cover and simmer for about 45-60 minutes until farro is tender. Drain, cool.
2. In another saucepan, steam green beans for 3-4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain.
3. Combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Add farro, green beans, tomato, fennel, parsley, olives, green onions, and tuna. Toss gently to combine.
until next time...


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gulf Coast Cravings: Spinach Pea Salad with Grilled Shrimp

I come from a rather small family with just one brother and a handful of cousins. My husband's clan  however is much bigger with 5 siblings and too-many-to-count cousins.  Over the years the Cowie family has expanded even more with the addition of grandchildren, making for wild and crazy get-togethers.

Every year in June, the majority of the Cowie Clan road trip to the Gulf Coast to enjoy time together, soaking up the sun and playing on the beach.

To celebrate this memorable trip, I made Spinach Pea Salad with Grilled Shrimp using shrimp from the Gulf, vinegar from my homemade batch and spinach and mint from my garden. My spinach crop this year was meager and soon went to seed before getting very big, but I was at least able to gather up enough for this salad.

The grilled pita bread made lovely croutons and was a great way to use up some leftover pita I had in the refrigerator turning stale-ish.  The whole mixture was light but filling, flavorful and healthy!

Another year will pass before the Cowie Crew all vacation together again…but we won't let another go by before making this dish again!

Spinach Pea Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Pita Croutons (adapted from a recipe in June 2012 issue of Cooking Light)
1 cup frozen peas
1 whole wheat pita
cooking spray
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
zest of 1 lemon (about 1 ½ tsp)
pepper to taste
1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach
¼ cup feta cheese

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Microwave frozen peas for about 2 minutes.
3. Open pita, spray with cooking spray, grill for 1 minute each side. Remove from grill, cool, break into pieces
4. Combine 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp lemon zest, pepper and shrimp in a small bowl. Toss to coat then grill for 2 minutes on each side.
5. Combine remaining oil, lemon zest, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, peas, onion, mint and spinach; toss to coat.
6. Divide salad mixture, shrimp and pita among 4 plates, top with feta cheese.

until next time...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Perfect Picnic Fare: Lemony Grilled Potato Salad

It was a beautiful weekend. The skies were clear, and the temp was as perfect as it gets…awesome weather to barbeque and attend an outdoor concert.  We love to go to the many outdoor concerts in the area, throw down a blanket, put up our fold-a-table, sip some wine and nosh on some tasty food. The band this weekend was one that I grew up listening to. In fact, Art the bass player is one of my father’s childhood friends.  The band’s blues-style music is toe-tappin’ infectious and just destined to put anyone in a good mood.

As a side dish, I made Lemony Grilled Potato Salad, a recipe adapted from this month’s Cooking Light Magazine. The results were “award winning” (my hubby’s words not mine). What makes this potato salad stand out from other variations of this popular picnic fare is that the veggies are grilled, adding an extra dimension of flavor.  A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightens and the capers add a bit of tang.

What is you favorite picnic food?

Lemony Grilled Potato Salad
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, cut into ½ inch thick slices
1 red pepper, halved and seeded
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. capers
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat grill to medium-high.
2. Place potatoes in large saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half.
3. Pour 2 Tbsp oil into a shallow dish; dip potatoes, onions & red pepper in oil then place on grill. Grill about 5 minutes each side until tender. Remove vegetables from grill, cool slightly, and coarse chop.
4. Combine remaining oil, basil, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add grilled vegetables, toss to coat. 

until next time...

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