Grilled Vegetable Farro Salad
I recently joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) program at a local farm. I get a bag of seasonal vegetables every other week. I joined because I want to support my local farms and also to get out of my vegetable rut. I tend to buy the same veggies over and over because I know I'll be able to get my youngest child to eat those. I want to break out of my comfort zone and expose "his pickiness" to different flavors and textures in the hopes he will expand his palate and eventually stop being so choosy. The bag is filled with a mixture of fruits and vegetables. I always get a few avocados ( my town is the avocado capital of the world, more about that in the next blog post) and whatever is in season at the moment. This week I got a boat load of zucchini and summer squash.
I am a huge fan of grain salads in the summer. They are completely portable and can be eaten cold or room temperature. They are perfect to take to a party, concert or picnic and can be made a day or two ahead. The first time I made this dish, I grilled the vegetables and put them hot in a bowl together which started to steam and overcooked them to a mushy consistency. I learned my lesson, so this time I grilled them until almost done and put them separately on a sheet pan to cool. They should have texture, especially the eggplant. I used farro for this salad but you could use spelt, wheat berries, barley, or quinoa. I like the nutty, chewy consistency of farro and it really pairs well with the eggplant and zucchini. Farro is the grain from a type of wheat called triticum dicoccum, or emmer wheat. It's fairly easy to cook and has a nice al dente texture. The chickpeas add more fiber and protein to make the salad a meal on it's own. I served it with some marinated grilled chicken and a nice glass of chardonnay (my favorite).
This salad is high in fiber and vitamin C. Fiber is one of the most important nutrients most people don't get enough of in their diet. The recommended daily intake is 25-30 grams per day. 50% of people in the US will suffer from diverticulitis at some point in their life. Diverticulitis is a digestive disease in which areas of the colon are weakened and may be pushed out into pockets that can become inflamed and infected. There is evidence that it may be a result of not getting enough fiber. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that mammals must acquire through their diet because we lack an enzyme needed to produce it from glucose. It acts as an electron donor for at least 8 enzymes, it maintains copper and iron in a reduced state and is essential for collagen synthesis (Hello good skin!). Each serving of this salad provides approximately 50% of your daily fiber, 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs and it tastes fantastic! As always, I welcome your feedback. Enjoy!
Grilled Vegetable Farro Salad
1 large red pepper
1 large Japanese eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2 green onions
1 cup farro
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons basil,chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 lemon, juiced (~ 2 tablespoons)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
Cook farro according to package directions and set aside. Preheat grill to med-high. Seed red pepper and slice it into 4 sections. Slice eggplant and zucchini down the middle lengthwise. Brush vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Grill pepper, eggplant, zucchini and green onion until slightly charred (~ 8 minutes, pepper may take a bit longer) and place on a sheet pan to cool (make sure the vegetables are not touching so they cool without overcooking). The vegetables should be firm to the touch not mushy. Remember they will continue to cook as they cool. Once vegetables and farro have cooled combine them with the rest of the ingredients and serve. Recipe can be made 1-2 days ahead. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts Serving Size 1 Serving Per Serving% Daily Value* Calories 369 Calories from Fat 139 Total Fat 15.4g 24% Saturated Fat 2.0g 10% Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 311mg 13% Potassium 929mg 27% Carbohydrates 49.2g 16% Dietary Fiber 12.8g 51% Sugars 9.0g Protein 12.7g Vitamin A 24% · Vitamin C 96% Calcium 8% · Iron 23%