Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Walnuts, and Raisins

I have two important things to say:

First, I try to always give credit where it’s due, which obligates me to credit this amazing salad to Julia, head chef at Haven’s Kitchen, even though I wish I could say that I came up with this one on my own.  A few Friday’s ago we were preparing food for a wedding rehearsal dinner, and while I was busy manning the deep fryer station – popping out zeppole’s, risotto fritters, and deep fried fingerlings to many hungry and happy diners – I noticed Julia making something amazing out of the corner of my eye.  I wasn’t too sure, but I was pretty sure I saw all of my favorite major actors: beautifully roasted cauliflower florets, chopped parsley, toasted nuts, plumped up raisins, and farro, one of my more recent grain obsessions.  After a few bites I knew I had to try and make some version of this salad, and I thought to myself, who better to make it for than my lovely mother, here on a visit from San Antonio?

Which brings me to my next important point: lunch with a fabulous lady!

Two champagne glasses and a hearty vegetarian meal = bliss!

Given my random work hours I was able to free up my Thursday and pull this together to have lunch with the leading lady in my life, my mama.  She loves vegetables and fruits like me, so I stewed up some roasted butternut squash soup with roasted wild mushrooms (yes that’s right, it’s sitting in the gorgeous Staub cocotte that my sister Yasmin bought for me for Xmas), roasted mushrooms on the side, and of course this yummy salad for which I’m about to give you the recipe.  And of course there is also champagne.  With my mother there will always be champagne.

Although we were quite stuffed after our lunch (there may have been some rolling and laying) we were both satisfied and felt that the salad had one of those magical abilities to fill you up yet make you feel lighter at the same time.

The recipe is for two, which is inevitable because of the size of cauliflower heads.  But it holds well for lunch or dinner the next day, and you can always make it to share with someone else, someone who is deserving of your amazing cooking!

With love,

Ashley

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Walnuts, and Raisins – Makes 2 servings

  • 3/4-cup farro
  • water or vegetable broth (amount varies according to farro package instructions)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2-cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes (you can also soak in tea if you want to get crazy)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley (save a few stems to cook with faro)
  • 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place faro in a small saucepan. Cover with water, and add bay leaf if using. Cook according to package instructions.
3. Meanwhile, remove cauliflower stalk and cut florets into small, 1/4-inch pieces (you want them to become roughly the same size as the farro).
4. Place cauliflower on a lined baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Roast until cauliflower is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through roasting.
5. Place walnuts in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just starting to brown and become fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf from cooked farro (if there is excess water in pot, drain farro in strainer).
6. In a bowl, combine farro, cauliflower florets, raisins, parsley and walnuts. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice from one half over salad. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Share with somebody you love or save the rest for lunch the next day.

Risotto-Style Farro with Butternut Squash and Parsley

I’ve already made a risotto-style farro recipe (Farro with Red Kuri Squash and Leeks) but I got some pretty good feedback on it so I decided to make a similar dish, this time with pre-cut butternut squash.  I normally like to use fresh squash which I then cut up at home, but doing that really isn’t practical when you’re cooking for yourself or even just one other person.

Cooking farro in this way has become pretty popular.  I say this because I found another farro-risotto recipe over at the fantastic blog Eat Live Run (also in one serving size!) which is made with mushrooms and sweet corn.  Lynda from TasteFood also made a “farrotto” recipe back in March with shiitake mushrooms and beets.  Using farro instead of the traditional arborio rice is much healthier for you, and farro also provides a nuttier and chewier taste which adds great texture to the dish.

I made another video to accompany this recipe, which I hope will show you how easy and doable it is.

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Winter Persimmon Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Farro, and Avocado

After the intense grilled cheese sandwich I ate for lunch yesterday, I figured I would give my body a little present by filling it with the fruits and vegetables it has been calling out to me for.  After browsing through a bunch of different seasonal salad recipes on FoodBuzz, I decided to stick with ingredients I mainly had at home, and that’s how this winter-fruit salad came about.  I should tell you that after I took a few bites of this salad, my eyes widened and I said to myself out loud, “this might be the best salad you’ve ever made Ash!”  Truthfully I don’t know if that statement is true or if I was just really hungry after my run this morning.

Either way this salad definitely hits the spot and gives you so many textures to enjoy: creamy avocado slices, crunchy pomegranate seeds, silky persimmon strands and of course the very unique texture provided by farro.  If you’re particularly drawn to pomegranate seeds, I recommend checking out this beautiful Arabic Salad recipe which includes another favorite ingredient of mine, pomegranate molasses. Don’t know what a persimmon is? Neither did I a few years ago, but after trying a ripe one with my mom one winter I quickly became hooked.  Here’s a photo of what they look like:

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