California Nicoise Salad Recipe

california nicoise salad | pamela salzman

I just arrived in New York for my annual summer vacay with my parents, my sisters and their families.  We’ve descended upon my parents’ house in Long Island for a week of old fashioned backyard fun with a few trips to the beach and the ice cream parlor.  It also involves some serious menu planning for 12-16 people at any given meal.  If such persons were all adults, this task would be less challenging than if half of them were children ages 1-19.  But I love a challenge!

blanching green beans | pamela salzman

Sometimes for lunch we’ll make a giant composed salad where each component has its own space and I serve the dressing in a small pitcher on the side.  I notice the kids (and picky adults, in general) eat much more of a composed salad than a tossed one.  My son, Mr. Picky, can always find something to choose from a composed salad versus one that is tossed, especially if there’s one ingredient that’s offensive and touching everything else.  Touching ingredients is a deal breaker!! This version of a classic Nicoise salad is always a winner, plus it’s one of my favorite salads of all time.

how to cut an avocado | pamela salzman

The classic typically contains oil-packed tuna, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, green beans (usually the small haricot verts), Nicoise olives, and boiled potatoes.  It’s a perfect salad for summer because it can all be prepped ahead and served cold or at room temp.  And it’s a meal unto itself.

nicoise prep | pamela salzman

But I have made so many versions of this salad subbing chicken or slow-roasted salmon for the tuna or even white beans for the tuna for a vegetarian version.  Regular string beans for the haricot verts.  Even cucumbers have worked nicely.  But in this version, which I call a “California Nicoise,” I sub in the very Cali avocado for the potato, because everyone seems to be watching his or her carbs lately!  Because of the versatility of this salad, it was a hugely popular in my classes last summer with everyone — Paleo-types, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free peeps and so on.

california nicoise salad | pamela salzman

Visually, I think this salad is so beautiful and quite healthful, too.  It is well balanced with high quality protein, fat and lots of veggies.  I love using the very best tuna for this salad.  I featured this Tonnino oil packed wild tuna in a recent Five Friday Favorites and it is perfect here.  If you want to use standard canned tuna, just drizzle a little olive oil on top for added flavor.

california nicoise salad | pamela salzman

Green beans can be blanched, radishes sliced and eggs boiled the day before and refrigerated.  But again, feel free to sub other ingredients if that would make you happy.  And if you notice more takers than usual for this salad, perhaps employ the composed method for other salads too!

5.0 from 1 reviews
California Nicoise Salad
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • For the dressing:
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces haricot verts (thin French green beans) or string beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4-6 hard-boiled large eggs,**peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1-2 cans high-quality tuna, preferably packed in olive oil, drained and broken into pieces
  • 1 large avocado, cubed***
  • ½ cup olives, preferably Niçoise
  • ¾ pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Bibb lettuce leaves to line platter, if desired, or shredded as a bed for the lettuce
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl or shake in a screw-top jar.
  2. Prepare a bowl of ice water for the green beans. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add kosher salt. Add the beans and set a timer for 3 minutes. After beans have cooked for 3 minutes, test for tenderness. They should be crisp-tender, but not taste raw. Drain and immediately submerge in the ice water bath. Drain after 5 minutes or so and pat dry. Can be done the day before and refrigerated.
  3. Assemble the salad by arranging ingredients in separate groups. I like to line the platter with lettuce either just under the tuna or the entire platter. Drizzle everything with dressing or leave on the side for each person to dress his/her own salad.
Notes
*Ingredient amounts can vary based on preferences.
**Place uncooked eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat and time for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water or transfer to a bowl of cold water. Can be done a day ahead and peeled before serving.
***the avocado is in place of the traditional boiled, small new potatoes. But use 1 pound of potatoes if you prefer.

 

Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe

You see that beautiful piece of fish down there?  That is my idea of a perfect dinner — simple, healthy, light, delicious, seasonal, easy-to-make.  If my family didn’t thrive on an ever-changing dinner menu, I would love to eat this twice a week with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé.  Perfect.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Fish in parchment is easier than it looks and one of the most healthful ways to cook fish.  I have taught and posted two other fish in parchment recipes which you may have tried, one with cilantro and ginger and the second with summer herbs.  Both are delicious and perfect when you want something light in the summer.

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The basic idea when you’re cooking in parchment, is to use ingredients that all cook pretty quickly and at the same rate.  Make sure that parchment is tightly sealed and you’ll create a little steam oven in that packet.  I always make sure the fish is well-seasoned with salt and pepper and that I add a smidge of fat, either butter or olive oil for flavor, and then there are lots of possibilities.

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Once I see those first local tomatoes at the farmers market, I start going a little tomato-crazy.  I especially love cherry tomatoes because they are always so sweet.  In this recipe, you can’t beat the combination with the sautéed garlic, salty capers and olives and zingy white wine.  I would eat this with a simple rice pilaf or quinoa salad or a raw zucchini salad.  My family would probably love a little pasta with pesto to go with it.

med fish parchment collage 1

I have taught this recipe in my cooking classes many, many times and sometimes I added some raw baby spinach leaves under the fish.  The spinach wilts beautifully and tastes delicious with all the other ingredients.  Shaved zucchini slices would also be perfect, but you could also add vegetables to the packet like blanched (not raw) green beans or slivers of roasted peppers.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Of course, if there are ingredients in the recipe you don’t care for, feel free to omit.  After I finish going over a recipe in my class, I take a few minutes to talk about substitutions.  Questions about how to change the recipe are the most common questions that come up — how do I make this gluten-free? My husband won’t eat anything with onion.  I hate olives.  Etc, etc.  I give you permission to take out the olives if you want.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Summer is here, friends.  Let’s get cooking!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • a handful of mixed fresh herbs (I like to use mostly parsley with a little basil and mint mixed in), if you have them or sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
  • 4 filets of wild halibut or sole
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange each piece of fish in the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  3. Top each filet with a fourth of the tomato mixture, 1 teaspoon of butter or oil, and 2 teaspoons wine.
  4. Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Repeat for each piece of fish. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
Notes
Sometimes I like to add a handful of baby spinach leaves to the parchment before topping with the fish.

 

Baked chicken with tomatoes, olives and capers recipe (variations for GF and vegan!)

 

baked chicken with tomatoes, olives and capers | pamela salzman

I just finished teaching this recipe in my March classes and it was a huge hit!  I don’t even like chicken and I seemed to always be looking for a bite at the end of class.  I had so many requests to post this recipe that I had to oblige, even though the images aren’t totally the best.  I think this would be perfectly appropriate to prepare for Passover, with one minor adjustment.  And it’s a great recipe to adapt as cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes become available.

pepper the chicken before dredging

The recipe is basically a braise, but the chicken is cooked uncovered for most of the time, which is why I call it Baked Chicken, versus Braised Chicken.  But the formula is still very much the same — browning the meat first to create flavor and color, sauteing onions, deglazing, putting meat back in and baking in the oven until cooked through.  Once you understand the steps, you can start making up your own recipe or adapting recipes like this one with other ingredients or flavors.

dredge the chicken lightly with flour

I personally like using bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken since I think they taste better and stay a little moister, especially breast pieces.  Unfortunately, cooking with bone-in, skin-on pieces takes longer than boneless, skinless and may not be a great option for those of you needing a really fast recipe for after work.  Fortunately, this recipe can be adapted for cutlets and even a slow cooker, so look for those options in the instructions.

olives, capers, thyme, jars of tomatoes

This dish produces very tender, flavorful chicken, as well as the accompanying onions and sauce.  In the ingredient list it offers the option of draining the juice from the jar of tomatoes or keeping it.  Here’s my thought process on that one:  if you will be serving the chicken with noodles or pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes or something that would welcome a lot of sauce, then you should keep the juice.  Otherwise, drain the juice and just use the tomato pieces.  I also love this dish during cherry tomato season, when I will use 1 1/2 pounds of  halved sweet cherry tomatoes in place of the jarred, and basil leaves instead of the thyme.  Large vine-ripened tomatoes that have been blanched and chopped are also great.  Both of these options create a much lighter, fresher dish.  But every variation is very delicious.

deglaze with wine and tomatoes

Other adaptations I discussed in class:

  • subbing fennel for half the onion
  • omitting the olives and adding chopped mushrooms with the onions
  • adding a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper flakes with the garlic
  • in the summer, subbing sliced sweet bell pepper for some of the onion
  • searing cauliflower steaks and using those in place of the chicken for a vegetarian/vegan option

add the olives capers and thyme

 

nestle chicken in the tomato mixture

I always use breasts when I teach because most of my students prefer white meat, and therefore it’s just easier for me to buy all breasts.  You can certainly use any part of the chicken you want.  In fact, it’s more economical to buy a whole chicken and have the butcher cut it into pieces for you.  But I highly recommend not buying 1 breast per person.  It’s too much meat to eat in one sitting, unless you are an Olympian or a body builder!  I have never actually seen anyone at my house or at a dinner party eat an entire breast.  I have seen people cut them in half and push one piece off to the side and just each one half.  What I love to do is prepare the breasts, allowing for 1/2 per person, and removing the bones after the chicken is cooked and has rested a bit.  Then I slice the meat on an angle.  It’s much more manageable to eat it this way, as well as more elegant and attractive to serve.  See this post on the gloves I use to get down and dirty when I carve chicken!

Let me know if you have specific questions about timing or with what sides to serve this.  Hope your holiday planning is going well!

baked chicken with tomatoes, olives and capers | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Baked Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, sprinkled with 2 teaspoons kosher salt when you get home from the market unless you are using kosher chicken which you should not salt (read this post on how and why to season your chicken in advance)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging (all-purpose, spelt, GF flour, etc.) -- use matzoh cake meal for Passover
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ medium onions, cut through the root into sixths or eighths (or sliced thinly, but I like wedges better in this recipe)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 18-ounce jar diced tomatoes with the juice (or drain juice for less sauce) (I like Jovial in glass jars. Read this post why.)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or more white wine
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs or large basil leaves in the summer/fall
  • ½ cup pitted olives, such as kalamata or Bella di Cerignola
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat the chicken dry and season with black pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in one layer and brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
  3. If the pan looks dry, add a little oil. If it looks like there’s more than 2 Tablespoons oil, drain a bit off. Add the onions, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and sea salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, white wine, stock and cook, scraping any brown bits on bottom of the pan.
  5. Arrange the thyme, olives and capers over the onion mixture. Place the browned chicken pieces side by side on top. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven.
  6. After 15 minutes, baste the chicken with the juices in the pot. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 30-40 minutes (depending on thickness), basting every 10 minutes if you have time. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (You can also cook covered on the stove over low heat for 30 minutes.)
Notes
For a boneless, skinless version, check out my recipe for Lemon –Thyme Chicken Cutlets and follow the same directions.

For a slow cooker version, use skinless chicken and  3 Tablespoons each of stock and wine instead of 4.  Follow same directions, but after deglazing, pour everything into the slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours on HIGH or 6-8 on LOW.

 

 

Fennel and green bean salad with olives recipe

I cannot get out of summer mode, people.  And when it’s 80 degrees and sunny here at the beach, it’s hard not to be this way.  I really wanted to post a new recipe here over the weekend, buuuuutttttt I procrastinated.  A lot.  The weather was so perfect and we weren’t totally overscheduled like we usually are so I helped Mr. Picky and his pal set up a lemonade stand.  And then I was so exhausted from their 10-year-old exuberance that I took a nap.  For the first time since 1998.  And then the beach was pleading to me to come for one last summer visit.  So I did.  And I then I had to make a blueberry crumb cake and some salads to bring to a friend’s house.  And then I just rationalized that all you people were doing the same thing I was so you wouldn’t be online waiting for a new recipe from me.

fennel and green bean salad with olives | pamela salzman

How was it waking up today?  I thought it was brutal!  I keep seeing hashtags like #readyforseptember #septemberhereicome #excitedforfall.  You know what my last hashtag was? #fallisoverrated  I actually have a lot to look forward to this fall, but I think I just feel gipped.  Summer is supposed to be three months like every other season in nature.  But it’s not really.  My son’s school has 9 1/2 weeks off for summer.  Uh… #tooshort.

blanching green beans

I did do a fair amount of cooking this summer when I was home and at my parents’ house.  But I had so many projects and recipes I wanted to test and I got around to NADA.  I think that’s another reason I am not really ready for fall.  Because I’m not ready!  Not to worry if you’re taking any of my classes this fall– I will get my lazy rear into gear pronto.

cutting fennel

This summer I made a lot of salads like this Fennel and Green Bean Salad with Olives.  It’s everything I love when the weather’s warm and I only have an appetite for veggies, fruit and acai bowls.  I happen to love fennel which I’m sure you know by know if you’ve hung around here long enough.  It has such a unique flavor and great crunch and it’s actually fabulous for digestion.  Green beans are loaded with Vitamin K, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.  It’s a very hydrating salad too.

anchovy paste

dressing

The dressing has a nice salty bite from a little bit of anchovy paste.  But if you’re vegan or don’t want to use the anchovies, just drop it.  I am a bit of a salty gal myself, so I love the dressing and the olives in the salad.  This is the perfect salad to serve with seafood or a frittata or grilled chicken.

pitting olives

Even though summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye, I’m still looking for recipes like this one for the sultry days ahead.  And for those days when I am not motivated enough to do more than slice some fennel. #indenial

fennel and green bean salad with olives | pamela salzman fennel and green bean salad with olives | pamela salzman fennel and green bean salad with olives

 

Fennel and Green Bean Salad with Olives
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
  • Kosher salt for blanching beans
  • 1 large fennel bulb (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy fillet, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered
Instructions
  1. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a heaping tablespoon of sea salt. Submerge the green beans in the boiling water and cook 3-4 minutes or until they are crisp tender. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water bath. After a few minutes, drain and set aside to dry a bit.
  2. Trim the stalks off the fennel bulb and cut away any bruised spots. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out the core at the base and slice the fennel thinly into strips. (I would slice them more thinly than I did in the pictures here.)
  3. In a large serving bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, anchovy, garlic, salt and pepper. (You can also do this in a glass jar with a screw-top lid.)
  4. Add the green beans and fennel to the dressing and toss to combine. Remove garlic and discard. Sprinkle with olives and serve.

 

 

Provençal Goat Cheese Gratin Recipe

If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have been wondering this week if I fell off the face of the internet.  Believe it or not, I went back to Europe!  Except this time, I traveled solo and it was all work.  Last Friday I left the land of sandy beaches for the gorgeous countryside of Southwest France where I met eight fabulous ladies, several of whom are my cooking class students, for a one-week culinary retreat.

I was invited to Saint Antonin Noble Val by a lovely American couple who visited the region several years ago and decided to stay for good.  During the summer, Alisa and Bruce run Raison d’Art, an art camp for teenagers.  But in the off-season, they host specialty retreats for adults at a restored 200 year-old farmhouse.  When they asked me last winter if I would consider leading a culinary week in their area, it didn’t take long for me to say “OUI!”

I did miss you all very much and had every intention of blogging, but my students were keeping me very busy this week and away from the computer.  We started out our days with invigorating hikes in the countryside followed by breakfast at the house.  But we weren’t here to relax.  Several mornings involved scouring the local open markets for ingredients to be used in our evening classes.  Alisa and Bruce also took us around to visit many neighboring villages and local artisans, including a family-run vineyard and a goat farm, where we bought the most insanely delicious goat cheese.  And everyday we adopted the French way by lingering for several hours over lunch, not that we had much of a choice – lunch is a serious time of day where ALL the shops and businesses except restaurants close from 12-2 (or longer) and no one is in a rush.

When we returned to the house at the end of each day, we all came together in the kitchen for our hands-on cooking classes.  Normally my classes back home are demonstration, but this was such fun for me to cook side by side with all the students.  I even tried a few things for the first time, such as potimaron, a delicious winter squash that I have yet to see in the states, as well as a few goat and sheep cheeses that that were so crazy good.  A lot of love went into our cooking and we enjoyed eating a delicious dinner together every night.  All the teaching wasn’t done by me, however.   After dinner, the ladies taught me how to play Canasta, an addictive card game I have yet to win.  Next time!

I wish I had been able to take more pictures while we were cooking and share some recipes along the way, but I was caught up in the energy of the kitchen and the lighting in 200 hundred year-old farmhouses isn’t all that fantastic either.  One recipe that I was able to photograph a bit of was this Provencal Goat Cheese Gratin that we ate with herbed flatbreads which we made ourselves.  Goat cheese is something I expected to see in France, but I had no idea how incredible it would be.  Nor did I expect that I’d choose to eat it twice day!

The goat cheese we bought was so fresh and made from raw goat’s milk, which is closer in composition to human milk than cow’s milk.  Raw dairy from goat, sheep or cow is also much easier for us to digest.  Several of the students commented that they can’t eat cheese in the U.S., but the goat cheese in France was no problem.  We enjoyed local goat cheese so many different ways – from super young and fresh to slightly aged.  We had it rolled in herbs or shallots, baked warm in a salad or broiled on a tartine.  By the end of the week, Bruce was making us goat cheese sampler plates to nosh on with fresh bread and local wine while we cooked.  Verrrry nice!

This baked gratin was a hit and it was super easy, too.  We simply made a bed of crumbled fresh goat cheese on the bottom of a fluted baking dish and topped it with a quick homemade fresh tomato sauce, fresh thyme, oregano and sliced oil-cured olives.  The gratin was broiled just until the goat cheese was warm.   It’s the perfect thing to make as an hors d’oeuvre since it’s easy, delicious and can be assembled ahead and broiled just when your guests arrive.  Although we baked our own flatbreads for scooping up the dip, I’ve also eaten this smeared on toast or fresh bread.  I imagine it would also be amazing with eggs.  Perhaps my next post will be titled, “How to Eat Your Way Through France Without Gaining Weight!”

Provençal Goat Cheese Gratin
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Sauce:*
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Gratin:
  • 10 ounces soft goat cheese (rindless)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, minced or a pinch of dried
  • 20 black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted and quartered
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Score the bottom of the tomatoes and place in the water for 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Peel the tomatoes, cut in half around the “equator,” remove the seeds and finely chop.
  2. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler.
  4. Crumble the cheese on the bottom of a 10-inch round baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with the olives and the remaining herbs.
  5. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 3 inches from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve with crackers, toast, flatbread or fresh bread.
Notes
*You can also substitute 1 ½ - 2 cups jarred tomato sauce for the fresh.

Farro with roasted vegetables and roasted tomato dressing recipe

We had such a nice Labor Day weekend.  I hope you did, too.  We were able to squeeze in some beach time, family time, yoga (for me) and our annual block party, which was great fun.  The combination of the balmy weather and refrain from “labor” made me wish that summer would last just a little longer.  Although, as I mentioned in my gazpacho post, I am riding the summer tomato train for as long as possible.  Since this may very well be my last recipe of the year with tomatoes, I am sharing a goodie.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Deb at Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet magazine.  The original recipe called for Israeli couscous, which I couldn’t help but substitute out for a more whole (and tastier) grain like farro.  But what makes this dish special is the incredible dressing which uses slow-roasted tomatoes as it’s base.  What could be better, tomatoes and grains with a tomato dressing?  It’s the perfect recipe for a tomato-fanatic like me!

Ok, I can read your mind.  It’s not the fastest recipe on the planet.  The cherry tomatoes have to be washed, dried, halved, arranged on a baking sheet and roasted for an hour.  Although you don’t have to arrange the tomato halves like soldiers in the photo here.  I thought it would look nice that way, but now I realize it just makes me look obsessive compulsive.  Anyway, I was making this on Friday afternoon to bring to the beach for a potluck, and I tried timing the tomato prework. Excluding the roasting bit, I think it only took me about 15 minutes which I did while watching an episode of “Barefoot Contessa.”  Can I just say I wish Ina Garten would invite me over to cook, play bridge and drink cocktails with her and her friends, especially TR.  Sigh.  Speaking of Ina, do you remember her Orzo with Roasted Vegetables from 2001?  Gasp, was that really 11 years ago?  You know, the one that we all made a gajillion times for every backyard barbeque and potluck for years.  Loved it, but OD’ed on it for sure.  Ina’s salad was easy, but definitely involved some labor, and yet we all thought it was worth it.

Ok, this recipe is like that for me!  A little extra work, but worth it, worth it, worth it!  I taught this last September and again to a group this past July, all the while thinking how divine it is and how much I love it.  And then, while watching Ina on Friday afternoon, that orzo salad popped into my head and I changed this recipe on the spot by cutting the amount of farro in half and adding a bunch of roasted vegetables in its place.  The good news — it was A-MAZING, so much better than the original!  The bad news – it was A-MAZING, so much better than … the way I had taught it to A LOT of students.  Guilty face.  Well, I guess that’s what blogs are for!

 

Farro with Roasted Vegetables and Roasted Tomato Dressing
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, about 1 ½ pounds
  • 6 small-medium garlic cloves, UNpeeled
  • ¼ cup unrefined cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + additional for vegetables
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + additional for vegetables
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + additional for vegetables
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 5-6 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup farro
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (only if you’ve got it)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Halve tomatoes through stem end and arrange cut-side up in one layer on a large baking sheet. Add garlic to pan and roast about 1 hour, or until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around the edges. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel the garlic and put in a blender with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper and ½ cup roasted tomatoes. Blend until very smooth.
  3. Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the asparagus on a large baking sheet and drizzle with oil plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Chop the zucchini into 1-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast asparagus for 12 minutes or until tender. Roast zucchini 35 minutes or until caramelized. Chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few substantial pinches of kosher salt and the farro. Cook until farro is tender, but still al dente, about 20-25 minutes. Drain very well and transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Add olives, remaining tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, herbs and dressing to farro. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.