It’s a month before my big apple exodus, and about a week before taking all my worldly possessions out of their cozy nests and putting them in cardboard. Which means my diet for the next 31 days consist of the stuff I have in my cabinets, pantry and freezer. Basically, if I don’t eat it, I have to pack it, and I don’t want to pack it. So the other day, as I was busily braille-ing the contents of my freezer (since everything was encased in a layer of tin foil and freezer bag), I happily excavated a bratwurst. Lunch!
As the onions and sausage sizzled in the pan, I opened the refrigerator door and reached down past the Gold’s prepared horseradish for its cousin, Gold’s grainy mustard with horseradish. A brat is naked without it, and a naked brat is a crime against wurst. Baguette split, brat nestled in a bed of sweet golden onion, I loosened the cap and dipped knife tip in. And that’s when the wave of panic hit…what if they don’t have Gold’s in OREGON!!
Part of the joy of moving to a new neighborhood (or in my case, new neighborhood, city, state, and a whole new world,) is discovering all the swell stuff in your new hood. The flip side is wondering if they have what have become the staples in your life up to now. In other words, do they have this, THERE? You can handle the shift in the big things, the favorite museum, or neighborhood, or restaurant, because you know there will be lots of new wonders to discover. But it isn’t until you’ve been living in your new digs for a while that it hits you…. Mr. Softie doesn’t come here. And I can’t just run to Rafiqi’s food cart when I’m in a mood and only a lamb gyro or falafel will make it all better. Even those things I can handle. But not being able to find a condiment that has been in my history of fridges pretty much since I dropped from the womb…DISASTER! How can I make an egg cream without U-bets? Does anyone out there make a decent sfigliatelle? Does anyone out there even know what sfigliatelle is? Are there diners to go to after a night of cocktails and friends and I have a hankering for breakfast at 3AM? And what about knishes? And pastrami? And soft pretzels with mustard? Well, no, they probably won’t have many of the things I’ve come to love. Those are the things that give a location its distinct flavor. What there will be are many new flavors to discover, and that’s the really exciting part of all of this.
And as far as my jar of Gold’s? As long as there’s Amazon I’m good. They sell it by the case…
Rather than pay tribute to my old hood with this week’s recipe, I’ve decided to incorporate ingredients from my new one. Farro Salad with Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts is a hearty salad substantial enough on it’s own for lunch, or as a side with grilled chicken, a steak or just a good sandwich. The hazelnuts came directly from Oregon (well, according to the package), and since cherries are synonymous with the Pacific Northwest, I’d like to think the cherries did too. 😉
Farro Salad with Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts
Makes about 2 cups
Farro or emmer wheat is an ancient grain popular in Italy, and supposedly what sustained the Roman legions on their journeys. I’m not so sure about that, but I am sure it makes a wonderful salad, pilaf or addition to soups. Farro has a texture similar to barley, and is available in many markets, in Whole Foods, and on-line. If you can’t find it, barley would make a fine substitute.
For the salad:
- ¾ cup farro, soaked overnight in enough water to cover (store in refrigerator overnight)
- ¼ cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
- ¼ cup chopped dried cherries
- ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs –I used a combination of tarragon, basil and parsley), divided into two piles (you’ll use half in the recipe and add in the other half just before serving)
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
For the dressing:
- Zest from an orange (about a heaping teaspoon)
- Juice from half an orange (about ¼ cup)
- A few good grinds of pepper or more, to taste
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 TBSP + 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP water
- ½ tsp honey
- 2 heaping tsp honey mustard
To cook the farro:
Drain the farro, add to a medium saucepan, and cover with about an inch of water. Add in 1 tsp salt and mix well. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook 10-15 minutes. The farro should be chewy, not mushy. Drain and put in a bowl to cool.
Chop the herbs, hazelnuts, scallion and dried cherries and set aside. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid (or you’ll have dressing all over you and the kitchen), add the dressing ingredients and give a good shake to incorporate. Add 2 tablespoons of the chopped herbs and shake again. Pour the dressing over the farro, toss in the nuts and cherries and mix so everything is covered in dressing. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours. The longer it sits, the better it gets so this is the perfect make-ahead dish for your next barbecue or picnic. When you are ready to serve, toss in the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs. Calories: about 185 per half cup.
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