Vegetables

By Gwen Ashley Walters | JULY 22, 2013 | SALADS

HFM-Farro-N-Berries

You may have heard this: whole grains are good for you.

You can’t pick up a food magazine or read an online article without someone beating the nutritional drum benefits of whole grains. I’m all for health, but I am first all for taste.

Hayden Flour Mills, based in Phoenix, Arizona, is a small, artisan milling company that sells fresh milled flours and whole grains, including farro (Emmer wheat berries) and Arizona White Sonora wheat berries.

HFM-Berries-N-Farro

The reason I’m writing about these isn’t because these grains are good for you, even though they are. I’m writing about them because they taste good, because they have interesting textures, nutty flavors and add variety to the usual line up of grains.

Cooking these whole grains take a bit more planning than processed grains such as white rice, but they are heartier so they stand up longer, too. Cook a big batch of them on the weekend and use them them throughout the week.

Once cooked, you can add them to soups or create salads with them as I have. You’ll find two terrific salad recipes at the end of the post to get you started.

HFM-Grain-Soak-1

Both grains require soaking. You can soak them overnight or soak them in the morning and cook them in the evening.

HFM-Cooked-Wheat-Berries

The Arizona White Sonora wheat berries (above) cook in about 30 minutes. They double in size, and appear puffed up, but the texture is firm and extra chewy.

HFM-Cooked-Farro

Farro (above) takes a little longer to cook, somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes. Some of the grains will split. Farro is slighty chewy, too, but not as much as the Sonora berries.

A cup of each uncooked will yield about two cups cooked.

Mirepoix

After I cook and cool the grains, I add a basic “mirepoix” flavoring to create a “base” salad. Carrot, celery and onion form the basis of mirepoix, a classic flavoring combination used in stock and soup making, but used raw, they also add flavor to salads, and they are sturdy enough to match the hearty grains.

From there, I can divide the mixture in half and later in the week, add more ingredients to create different finished salads. You literally can create thousands of different salads by starting with the base and adding just two or three more ingredients plus herbs and either a vinaigrette or a creamy dressing.

Grapes-Walnuts-Ricotta-Square

For the farro salad, I’ve chosen salty ricotta salata (you could choose blue cheese or feta instead), toasted walnuts (or choose pecans or hazelnuts) and red grapes (or choose dried cranberries or currants).

HFM-Grape-Walnut-Salad-Square

I use extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and a touch of honey to round out the farro salad.

Beans-Pepper-Pepitas

I went with a Southwestern flavor for the Arizona White Sonora wheat berry salad: black beans, red bell pepper and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

HFM-Mexican-Wheat-Berry-Salad-Square

I added a chopped jalapeño for spice, lime juice, olive oil and cilantro to finish the salad.

I could have gone with olives, tomatoes and feta for a Greek flavor. Or dried apricots, cashews and curry powder. Or, well, you get the idea.

These whole grains from Hayden Flour Mills are as hearty and delicious as the possible salad combinations are endless.

What combination of ingredients will you come up with?

HFM-Grain-Salads

Wheat Berry Salad: Black Bean + Red Pepper + Pepita

[print recipe]

Makes 2-1/2 cups (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1/4 cup small diced carrot
1/4 cup small diced celery
2 tablespoons small diced red onion
1/2 cup cooked black beans (rinsed if using canned beans)
1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup toasted pepitas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 of a large jalapeno, minced
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1/2 a large lime
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Place the first 10 ingredients (cooked wheat berries through garlic) in a medium bowl and toss to distribute ingredients evenly. Add zest and squeeze lime juice over the top. Pour olive oil and honey over the top. Toss again until all the ingredients are coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Farro Salad: Grape + Walnut + Ricotta Salata

[print recipe]

Makes 2-1/2 cups (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked farro
1/4 cup small diced carrot
1/4 cup small diced celery
2 tablespoons small diced red onion
1/2 cup red grapes sliced in half
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata (or blue cheese)
2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Place the first 8 ingredients (cooked farro through basil) in a medium bowl and toss to distribute ingredients evenly. Pour olive oil, vinegar and honey over the top. Toss again until all the ingredients are coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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