It has been hot in Colorado. 62 of 64 Colorado counties are requesting federal disaster relief because of drought. My yard is hot, tired, cranky and so am I. Yesterday my electrician came over to fix a few problems and while he was opening the electrical box he was stung on his lip by a wasp. I felt awful but probably not as awful as he did, so I got out the Adolph’s meat tenderizer that my mother in law supplied many moons ago, made a paste, watched him rub it on his lip and thank goodness with a few tabs of Advil he was OK. Hey, the stuff really works for stings if you didn’t know. (And when I say my electrician it is because when we redid our home a long time ago he was the electrician we used. It seemed like I was visiting with an old friend!)
While he recovered I ran to Ace is the place and bought wasp spray. He then went out into our 100 degree day and sprayed the heck out of that wasp nest only to discover that the electrical box was not the problem. And last, but certainly not least, while walking through our yard he ran into a very long, (at least 4ft) garter snake, who was not happy to see him. He tried to chase him into the yard but I think he escaped into the rocks and now I am afraid to go out and do yard work. Then this very nice electrician sprayed my gutter where we saw more wasps escaping and went back to work. Of course everything is fixed but my brain is still freaking out about the large snake that is lurking somewhere in my lawn.
This is just a bee. Imagine a wasp.
And it is still hot and the swamp cooler that was fixed three weeks ago stopped working again. I am still waiting for that person to show up and so far that wait is going on the 6th day. My brain is truly fried. Which of course brings me to this salad because salads are appropriate for people with fried brains. I made this on Friday when my neighbor came over for dinner. It is healthy and delicious and summery. I adapted it from a new book on salads, “Salads: Beyond the Bowl” by Mindy Fox that I checked out from the library recently. It is a beautiful book written by the editor of the magazine “La Cucina Italiana”. She has some unique fresh salad ideas, glorious photography and lots of creativity. In my opinion it is written for someone that likes to cook and try new ingredients. Of course that is just my kind of book but if you like a lot of detail about how to do things or where to find ingredients that are not easily found then this may not be the book for you. It features such exotic salads as Shredded Roast Rabbit, sliced plum, smoked almond and shaved celery salad in addition to Macaroni salad with yogurt, dill and pickles. Catch my drift? There is a wide range of salad choices here and there is something for everyone.This salad went far. After Friday’s meal it then traveled to a Firefall concert (You are the woman that I always dreamed of…I knew it from the start…) where it was shared on another hot evening between three hot women, if I must say so myself. It then continued to give for my meal yesterday after my wonderful electrician came. Try it. This is a keeper.
Farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world. It is good for those on gluten free diets though it is not entirely gluten free. A ½ c of uncooked farro contains 170c, 5g of fiber and 6g of protein. If you’d like more info on farro click here. I will tell you many people say it needs to be soaked but I have not experienced that and I have bought two different brands. It is making a comeback but is still hard to find unless you have a great Italian grocer around the corner which I do not. It is also not inexpensive but is really filling. It is chewy, but not hard and it adapts well too many recipes. Use it as you would
You can buy it online and some Whole Foods carry it. I tried it about 10 years ago in an Italian restaurant in San Francisco and I have liked it since then. Luckily it is easier to find now. And if you can’t find farro use big crusty grilled garlic bread croutons and make a bread salad. That is really good, too. In fact the author called this a panzanella di farro salad though there is no bread in it. (Now I can’t get that song out of my head!). “ You are the woman that I always dreamed of. I knew it from the start.—–and that’s the last I’ve seen of my heart. Of my heart.” Hey- this salad is good for the heart!
Panzanella di Farro adapted from Mindy Fox’s book, “Salads:Beyond the Bowl”
I cut this in half and still had enough to feed 4 a full meal. I also served this to my neighbor with a marinated lemon oregano grilled chicken breast on the side.
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large ear of corn
½ lb green beans, trimmed
6T good olive oil
1 ¼ c of farro
1 large garlic clove
3T red wine vinegar
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons
1c packed basil leaves, torn into shreds
4 medium radishes, sliced thin
3 scallions thinly sliced
(I added another ear of corn, a red pepper grilled, and a red onion grilled. Additionally, I served it on a bed of arugula.)
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
In a large salad bowl toss the tomatoes with a ½ t of salt.
Cook the corn and the green beans together in the boiling water. After 3 minutes, using tongs, transfer the corn to a cutting board. Cook green beans 1-2 minutes more until crisp tender. Drain well and let dry.
Cook the farro in the boiling water that you used for the veggies. (I added some chicken bouillion to give it more flavor.) Cook for 18-20 minutes but I have found this depends on the type of farro you buy. It may take longer. It should be tender but firm to the bite.
Meanwhile fire up the grill. Spray your green beans with oil and your other veggies if using. Grill until golden. Season well with salt and pepper. Cut corn kernels off of cob.
Now mash your garlic clove of which I used two with a ½ t salt into a paste. (I did this but it would be fine to just put it through a garlic press and mix it with the salt.) In a measuring cup combine the remaining 5T of oil and the vinegar. Add the garlic paste and whisk to combine.
Drain the faro and let it cool and dry for 5-10 minutes on a baking sheet over a wire rack. (The drying helps it to stop absorbing so it doesn’t get soft when you combine it in the salad. My note.)
When the farro is cool, whisk the dressing and add it to the tomatoes along with the other vegetables. Add ¼ t salt and ¾ t pepper. Toss well and start singing!