Sunday, October 6, 2013

Curried Farro Salad

I didn't have Indian food until I was 22. You see, my mom does not like curry; just can't stomach it, or its smell. Also, as many Indian dishes are pretty darn spicy, and my mom is a real spice wimp (that's where I inherited it from -- although I am trying to train myself to handle a little more spice than what's in "mild" jarred salsa), any dish that resembled Indian cooking was just not happening.

It turns out that curry is actually delicious, not always spicy, and even if you're initially averse I have found you can wean yourself onto it and really love it. Enter: Curried Farro Salad. This dish is a great "entry level" guide to trying curry powder. It takes the flavor of the salad up three notches from most "pasta" salads, without adding anything bad for you, and is not spicy in the least. And if you have had curry and love it, this dish is definitely for you because it will give you a new technique for using it.  Bonus for everyone, this recipe makes a big batch so you can whip it up for an easy dinner (can be served cold or room temp) and can use the leftovers for brown bagging it.

I found this base recipe in Bon Appetit a few years back, and since I made it then (with a few modifications aka eliminate cilantro, etc.), Noah asks for it all the time. ALL THE TIME. No matter what the season. Luckily, this can be made in any season really, but this past week I got carrots, red onions, and arugula in my farm share, so all the stars aligned for Noah to get his wish.

Curried Farro Salad

2 cups semi-pearled farro (if you get regular farro you'll just have to cook it longer)
1 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or whatever you have, I used olive)
3 teaspoons curry powder (such as Madras)
1 teaspoon ground mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 small carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4" dice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 lemon
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (from 1 rotisserie chicken or just simply bake two chicken breast halves and shred; optional)
2 cups arugula
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

The first thing you want to do is cook the farro, because it needs to cool down somewhat before you add the other things in. Use the package directions, or if you lost them, just put the farro in the bottom of a pot, cover with water, add a little salt, and boil for 12-15 minutes. The farro should still be a little chewy. Drain it and let it sit in the large bowl to cool. If you have never had farro before I am really excited for you to try this because it is delicious and you'll want it all the time after this.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add curry, ground mustard, and cardamom; cook, stirring often, until spices are fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are crisp-tender (try one), 5-6 minutes.

Add vinegar and stir until evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Stir in onion and the juice from your half a lemon. Remove pan from heat and stir until onion is wilted, 1-2 minutes (this is magic!). Add vegetable mixture to bowl with farro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temp. Then add chicken (if using), arugula, and olive oil to spelt mixture; toss to combine. And serve! Either room temperature (my favorite) or chilled. Enjoy!

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