Farro Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Romano Beans

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When I get into something, I really get into something.

I started crocheting last year and relentlessly hooked my way to coasters, headbands and half-done mittens. I watched epic YouTube how-to videos on different stitching methods. I developed calluses. Now my yarn and plastic hooks are stowed away somewhere beneath my bed.

Last summer’s thing was running. I went from never running ever ever ever to zipping around 5 miles a day. I bought super lightweight shoes because I’d read in a book that running barefoot was a good idea. My knees started hurting. Hello, stress fracture.

But more than a year ago, I had a rampant reaction to working at a summer camp for nearly two months and never once having the chance to cook for myself. So much iceberg lettuce and canned black beans. I don’t want to talk about it.

That reaction was this. And I haven’t gotten calluses or stress fractures yet. And I sure as poop haven’t stowed it away beneath my bed.

Everything’s on the kitchen counter.

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So let’s dive right into it after that brief sojourn.

I’ve never cooked with farro. It’s been a mysterious grain ever since I first learned about it, and I had thrown all of my efforts into finding it. It’s been a long journey through aisles of beans, bulky items, almond milk and the “ethnic” row. I had to answer a few riddles to get there.

I practically cried when I found the stuff. Farro has more protein than quinoa. It’s untouched grain. And there’s no controversy surrounding it just yet.

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Heirloom tomatoes are such babes I don’t even know where to begin.

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I mean, come on. Stop.

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Crispy romano beans. I used to eat this stuff by the bucketload on long hikes. So refreshing. Yum in my face.

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What’s a salad without some dressing, right? Olive oil, dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar add some zing and refreshment that might make you think it’s summer time.

Ooh, that’s a good one.

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Farro and wine. Let’s get Italian.

Farro salad with heirloom tomatoes and romano beans.

adapted from The New York Times

2 cups cooked farro
7-8 baby heirloom tomatoes, roughly sliced
1lb romano beans, trimmed and blanched

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

To cook the farro, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil and add the grain. Let it simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until the grains look like they’ve blossomed. Drain thoroughly and douse with cold water.

While the farro is cooking, chop the tomatoes and trim the romano beans. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beans. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and immediately remove from heat before giving the beans a cold water bath.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Toss the beans, tomatoes and farro in a large salad bowl before adding the dressing. Toss everything together, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Just before serving, top with fresh parsley.

Makes about 4-6 servings, which might be just enough to alleviate at least some of the pain caused by this weekend’s Patriots game.

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Tart Craving Mad

Have you ever totally botched lyrics? Like, “Blinded by the Light” will always be followed by, “Wrapped up like a blah nah nyeah na nuuuneenooonana.” Or like my brother, who used to think that the words “Transformers: Robots in disguise” were “Transformers: For the miss bee fied!”

Or how I still think that “stark raving mad” is “star craving mad” because there’ll always be an eight-year-old in me wishing she could hop on a unicorn and make rainbows before blasting off to a land where mermaids are real (I mean, they are) and tree houses were the only houses.

I hope I never lose that girl. She’s pretty rad.

Don’t even think about tomorrow, how you haven’t organized your closet or how dirty the soles of your feet are (they’re like, really dirty). Just remember that little kid who comes out every so often to smack you in the face with a dose of Take It Easy. Save yourself the blisters and take off your shoes.

Indulge in tart craziness.

Sometimes, food is just so beautiful.

Like, really, really beautiful. Heirloom cherry tomatoes are outrageous.

I made sweet and savory tarts because, let’s face it, I would’ve eaten all of the sweet ones for dinner.

Space the puff pastry squares (rectangles) a good inches apart. They poof (puff?) in the oven.

Also, don’t bake the mint or basil leaves. They’ll fizzle and die. Wait until the tarts have cooled a bit and just pop off the blackberry before slipping in a mint leaf or two.

Or just throw the leaves on however you please.

Opposites attract.

Blackberry, mint and lemon goat cheese tart / Heirloom tomato, basil and brie tart

For the blackberry tart:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/2 pint blackberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the blackberries with the balsamic vinegary and let sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl, mix together the goat cheese, lemon zest, honey and milk with a fork until smooth.

Cut the puff pastry sheet into 12 2-3 inch rectangles and score with a sharp knife, being sure not to cut all the way through.

Scoop about 2 teaspoons-worth of goat cheese mixture onto each square and top off with the balsamic blackberries.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the goat cheese and puff pastry are brown. Once the tarts have cooled slightly, slip a mint leaf underneath each blackberry.

Makes 12 four-bite-sized tarts.

For the heirloom tomato tart:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
brie cheese, thinly sliced (12 small pieces)
12 basil leaves
6 cherry heirloom tomatoes, cut in half

Same procedure as the blackberry tart, but without the frills. Cheese, tomato, basil. Boom.

Makes 12 tarts.