Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oh make me happy when skies are gray.

I LOVE meat. I LOVE bacon. I love rich, tasty foods that comfort.

Last night, I didn't want any of that. I wanted a light and easy to throw together meal that packed a punch with protein and fiber and well, tasted good.  It's also been crazy cold here, and I want it to be spring since I miss those fresh, bright flavors. As I wandered around Trader Joe's, piece by piece my meal came to me. I found my trusty Trader Joe's cooked French lentils in the refrigerated area, and headed over to the pasta/grain area for the 10 minute farro.

I'll pause here.

What is farro? It's an ancient grain, with a higher protein level than other grains. It cooks up fluffy, has a slightly toasty note, and when paired with beans (or in my case lentils), packs a punch to keep you full. Sorry folks, it's not gluten free.

Back to Trader Joe's-I grabbed a small package of grape tomatoes, and some feta and made my way to the register. I was ready to cook!  A note-this is a relatively cheap recipe, but if you buy your farro in bulk and get dried versus cooked lentils in bulk, it becomes crazy cheap, like cheaper than a college kid's ramen budget.

Ready to give it a try?  Read on!

~Why Can't It Be Spring Salad~
Serves 2 as a main course, with plenty left over

Red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup
Olive Oil, a good long drizzle
Crushed oregano-1/2 tspn or more to taste
pepper, to taste
a small palm-full  of green olives, sliced
2 big hand fulls of grape/cherry tomatoes (or diced regular tomatoes)
Handful of onion, very thinly sliced strands
1/2 of a cucumber
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press.
8 ounces of cooked lentils, cooled
Half of a bag of Trader Joe's 10 minute farro (5 ounces, dried), cooked and cooled
Feta-as much as you like
Juice of 1/2 lemon
*Note: There's no added salt here. Between the olives and the feta, I was happy without it, but if you like your salt, add it in!

-I hate biting into oregano that is still dried. To remedy that, mix 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your oregano and let it sit while you prep everything.
-If you're using uncooked lentils, you'll want to start those now
-Cook your farro according to the directions on the package
-Chop your onion, olives, cucumber, tomato and garlic and add to a large bowl.
-Add your pepper and your olive oil, vinegar, oregano mixture.
-Once your lentils and your farro are cooked and cooled, add these and mix together. The goal is to have a fair amount of everything, so you get a bite of tomato and cucumber with every spoon full of grain/lentil mixture. If you would like more of something, now's the time to add it.
-Add your feta to taste-if you like a lot, go for it!
-Give your mixture a good toss and drizzle in more of the red wine vinegar and olive oil. You should only need another 1-2 tablespoons of both. You want a nice light dressing that coats everything, so go slow on this step.
-Spoon into a bowl, squeeze a lemon over the whole thing and enjoy.

It's even better when left in the fridge overnight, as the flavors will have a chance to meld, so this is definitely something that can be made ahead of time (although, I would wait to add your feta, so it doesn't get all squishy).