Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Has (Re)Sprung!

A perfect Spring day? That would be today.

After a rainy and downright cold Easter of 63 degrees, today's upper 70s, blue skies and glorious sun were definitely celebrated. Everyone — kids, adults, animals, and even the ice cream man — was out and about just soaking it up.

The only issue was that it was nearly impossible to work inside. I found a nice, sunny spot on my patio and meticulously read a 248-page market research report on laparoscopic surgery trends, when normally I would've scanned maybe 40 pages of from my desktop (most likely while multi-tasking on a conference call). Oh well, I got some soul-lifting Vitamin D in addition to a keen knowledge of the compounded annual growth rate and market drivers for laparoscopic bowel resections through 2014. For the denouement, I thought it only fitting to eat something very Spring-like for dinner.

I suffer from a terrible condition called "recipe ripping," which means I'm constantly ripping recipes out of the dozen of cooking magazines I subscribe to each month. While that in of itself is not terrible, it's the fact that the clipped recipes go into a big, fat stack of recipe rippings which then accumulate for months, even years, begging to be cooked. Luckily I possess a bizarre talent of recalling many of the recipes I pull. So today, I was like, "Hey, I think I remember a recipe for a chicken, green bean, corn and farro salad with goat cheese that sounds perfect for today." Sadly I must confess my pseudo-photographic memory is not good for remembering cerebral data like the periodic table or how to conjugate Spanish verbs in the subjunctive tense. No, no, it's limited to recipes, what I was wearing when, and song lyrics.

The good news is that when I go looking for a recipe, I only have to look in one place — even though it may take me an hour to thumb through my entire stack of ripped recipes. Eventually I found said salad and was pleased to further my time outside of the office by running to the grocery store to buy the necessary ingredients. The salad actually comes together really rather effortlessly, although farro takes at least 30 minutes to cook. But you're getting a bonus whole grain that's packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E. And oh how I love foods that make me feel like I'm eating carbs when I'm really eating protein.

The end-product really did capture the essence of Spring. The tender, succulent roasted chicken (can I get an Amen for ready-to-buy rotisserie chicken?!), the crispy green beans, the sweet, crunchy, raw corn, the nutty, chewy farro, and the tangy marjoram-mustard vinaigrette to pull it all together. But of course, we all need a smidge of indulgence in a salad no matter what the weather's like. The crumbled goat cheese really adds a dose of pizzaz and creaminess that elevates the salad to a main course star.

All I can say is don't be like me and wait a year to make this delicious, healthy, Spring-worthy salad. It definitely deserves to be on the "must make now" list.

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese
from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup semi-pearled farro or spelt berries
8 - 12 oz rotisserie chicken, shredded
12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 2 to 3 ears of corn)
3 green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram, minced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp shallots, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

Cook farro in medium saucepan of boiling water until just tender, approximately 25 - 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Meanwhile, cook green beans in large saucepan of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes (or cook in the microwave about 2 minutes). Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer beans to a kitchen towel and pat dry. Mix farro, chicken and green beans in a large bowl; add corn and green onions.
Combine olive oil, marjoram and 1/2 tsp coarse salt in small bowl. Press with back of spoon to release flavor. Whisk in vinegar, shallot and mustard. Pour over salad in bowl and toss to coat. Fold in goat cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yields: 4 servings

Note: Farro may not be found in your standard grocery store — unless you live in California. : ) Try a health foods store, Whole Foods, or you can get some online here (seriously, what can't you buy on Amazon these days?!). This salad can be made 1 day ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator.

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