Gotta love the post Thanksgiving week for looking back on slices of pie consumed, walks planned but half-heartedly taken, and naps interrupted by cocktail hour (with snacks, of course.) Even the most dedicated health nut can have his head turned by cornbread stuffing laced with turkey gravy – and to be clear, I’m certainly not advocating a lettuce only diet when there are so many delicious things to eat. What I am suggesting is that in those in between moments that a return to balance is needed with something that ups the veggie intake without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, or maybe divine Providence, that the Upper West Side is home to the newest sweetgreen outpost; which for the uninitiated is salad-centric restaurant with a huge array of locally sourced greens, grains, and toppings mixed together in made-to-order combinations. I’ve become pretty obsessed with sweetgreen’s “Harvest Grain Bowl” and decided that as much as I loooove having someone else make dinner once in a while, it’s probably not financially sound to get takeout every night.
And, so I give you my version of a healthful meal that’s really simple to make and can be endlessly adaptable to what’s in the fridge. Don’t like sweet potatoes? Try acorn squash. Arugula too bitter? Baby spinach works great too. Want more protein or don’t have pecans? Toss in some shredded turkey from last weekend or a handful of almonds instead. The sky’s the limit and you won’t feel bad at all later when you have a cookie or two at the next holiday party.
Harvest Farro Salad (Yield: 2-4 Servings)
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup (1 medium) yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearled farro
2 cups chicken stock
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 cups baby arugula greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsalted pecan halves
Vinaigrette dressing, for serving (My favorite: Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette)
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onions turn golden and translucent, approximately 10-12 minutes.
Sprinkle the whole grain farro into the sauté pan and gently stir to coat with the onion and olive oil, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the thyme to the pan and pour in the chicken stock.
Stir to combine the ingredients and bring the mixture up to a simmer, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer with the pan covered for 40 minutes until the chicken stock is absorbed and the farro is tender, but al dente.
While the farro is cooking, peel the sweet potatoes and dice in 1/2 inch cubes. Scatter onto a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning part way through the cooking time, or until the pieces are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Allow the sweet potatoes and farro to cool before tossing with the arugula, dried cranberries, and pecans. Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, large deep sauté pan, and one rimmed baking sheet. I also used a vegetable peeler, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, and a wooden spatula. A large bowl for tossing the ingredients together is helpful, or just use the cooled sauté pan!
It’s great to have something that can be made ahead of time and kept on hand to pack in a lunch, but a salad isn’t going to cut it if I’m starving an hour later. So not the case here thanks to the farro and sweet potatoes. The farro in particular has a nutty richness and chewy texture that makes me forget there’s no meat, while the sweet potato has just enough starchiness to stick with you well into the afternoon. No 4pm crash and burn that sends me to rifle through the pantry for a treat. Crisis averted on all fronts.