It’s been two months since my diet of tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and more. Working in a restaurant and trying to eat healthy are two really impossible tasks. And for someone who likes to live a healthy lifestyle (yoga, running, hiking, and eating healthy) this was particularly challenging emotionally and physically to maintain. So for the past two months I’ve been happily cooking every day to bring balance and detox back into my life. I got my inspiration from a Food and Wine article, The Four Week Diet Plan and one dish from Pizzetta, a local pizza joint located in The Richmond.
Pizzetta’s Farro and Spring Pea Salad
3/4 cup farro
1/2 lb of English peas still in their shell
1/2 bunch of radishes
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup almonds, roasted
1 tbsp fresh dill
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven 350 degrees. When oven is heated, add the almonds. Heat through until you can just smell them and they are fragrant (about 5 minutes). 2. Cook the farro according to package directions. Meanwhile, shell the English peas, chop radishes and dill. 3. Once the farro has been cooked, combined all ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1 shallot, minced
1/2 lemon juiced (makes about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup of grapeseed oil
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Kale and Cabbage Soup*not pictured
Note: So I made this “soup” and right after I read the instructions I had a feeling the farro would soak up the water and stock. You can always add a more stock at the end and just heat through until warm.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
One 2-ounce piece pancetta, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce anchovy paste (4 teaspoons) or 4 anchovy fillets
3/4 cup farro
1/2 head Savoy cabbage—tough stems discarded, leaves torn into large pieces
1/2 bunch red Russian kale, stems discarded **I used lacinato kale
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water 6 thyme sprigs
1 small rosemary sprig
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano rind plus 3 tablespoons grated cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the anchovy paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add the farro and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and kale and cook, stirring, until just wilted. 2. Add the chicken stock, water, thyme and rosemary sprigs and cheese rind and bring to a simmer. Cover the soup, simmer the soup over moderate heat for 1 hour, until the farro and greens are tender. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to bowls, garnish the soup with the parsley and grated cheese and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently. NOTES One Serving 305 cal, 36 gm carb, 12 gm fat, 4.2 gm sat fat, 18 gm protein, 7 gm fiber.
Curry Egg Salad
Note: Curry flavor is not something I’ve always enjoyed, however, I’ve now become obsessed with it. The flavor combined in this recipe is just perfect.
2 tbsp cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives **I used leftover dill from the farro salad!
kosher salt and black pepper 4 slices pumpernickel bread **I used whole wheat bread
4 large leaves Bibb lettuce **I didn’t use lettuce
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. Rinse the eggs under cold water, peel, and coarsely chop. 2. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and curry powder. Fold in the eggs and chives; season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dividing evenly, top each slice of bread with lettuce, then the egg salad.
I just combined a cup of lettuce, cooked quinoa and leftover veggies from the farro salad like radishes, dill, cucumber, and feta cheese. I dressed the salad with the leftover vinaigrette.
Black Bean Burgers
I kind of new before embarking on this recipe that this would be really labor intensive. It’s one of those recipes I wish I would cook more often but you can only really save it for a weekend day when you have the time.
1 1/4 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup farro
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for sautéing
8 toasted buns
1. In a saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. When the beans are tender, season them with salt and let stand for 5 minutes; drain. 2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the farro and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the grains are al dente, 30 minutes. 3. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. 4. In a food processor, pulse all but 1/2 cup of the beans to a chunky puree; transfer to a bowl. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of beans, the farro, the onion mixture, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, cilantro, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Form the mixture into 8 patties. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 5. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil. Add the burgers and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and heated through, about 6 minutes. Transfer the burgers to the buns.
*I will probably use avocado next time as a spread to retain moisture.
MAKE AHEAD The burgers can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight. NOTES One serving 436 cal, 68 gm carb, 11 gm fat, 2 gm sat fat, 17 gm protein, 11 gm fiber.
Open-Faced Egg Sandwich with Pancetta and Avocado
I used the leftover pancetta from the Farro and Kale Soup to snaze up my morning breakfast.
2% milk (eyeball it)
1. Cook pancetta until crispy, about 5 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, scramble eggs with milk. 3. Lower the heat to medium-low and combine with pancetta. Serve with sliced avocado on a piece of whole wheat toast.
Red Thai Curry Chicken Skewers with Minty Yogurt Sauce
I had a small amount of green thai curry paste in my fridge so I substituted the red thai curry paste for that.
2 1/2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1. In a large bowl, mix the curry paste with the oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight. 2. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayonnaise, honey, lime juice and mint and season with salt. 3. Thread the chicken onto 10 skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between the cubes. Grill over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve the kebabs with the minty yogurt sauce on the side.
NOTES One serving 228 cal, 8 gm carb, 12 gm fat, 2.6 gm sat fat, 29 gm protein, less than 1 gm fiber.