Farro with Roasted Green Beans, Cranberries & Feta.

This farro salad is so nutty and flavorful! There are layers of different textures and flavors in each bite. The cranberries are slightly sweet, the roasted green beans add a little salt and crunch, the feta cheese adds a some tang, and the farro itself is chewy and nutty. Oh, and I almost forgot about the homemade balsamic vinaigrette that ties it all together! This side dish was a major hit with my husband and myself. It’s a nice change of pace from using the same old whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) and was very filling. It’s also very versatile: you can change what vegetable you include and what you serve it with. I served it with chicken but it honestly could go with anything!

IMG_20140120_192338001_HDRIf you’re unfamiliar with farro, have no fear! Although I have had farro before, this was my first attempt at cooking with it at home. To prepare it, all you have to do is boil it in a pot of water for 20 minutes until it is al dente (like pasta). Farro is not a form of pasta, however; it is a whole grain rich in Vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as fiber and magnesium. Unfortunately, it is not gluten free. If you are gluten free, you could substitute quinoa for the farro. Farro by itself does not really have a particular taste (much like pasta or quinoa), making it a nice blank canvas for any flavor you want to add to it. In this salad, it absorbs the tangy balsamic vinaigrette and the flavors of the other ingredients perfectly.

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Please feel free to play around with what vegetable and cheese you include. Also, at the bottom of the farro salad recipe I posted how to make that simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was perfect!

Farro with Roasted Green Beans, Cranberries & Feta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 cups water
  • fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup reduced sugar dried cranberries
  • 1/2-3/4 cup reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette**

1). Bring the water and farro to a boil in a small pot. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until farro is al dente.

2). Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the green beans in EVOO, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender-crisp, moving them around about halfway through.

3). In a medium size bowl, mix the farro, green beans, cranberries, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette together. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

**Use homemade or store-bought vinaigrette.
I used the following recipe which will make a 1/2 cup (you only need 1/4 cup for the farro salad, so save the rest for another salad!):

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 large clove garlic (grated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1). Whisk all ingredients together well.

Servings of farro salad: 7. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 214 Carbs: 25g Fat: 11g protein: 6g Fiber: 5g WWPoints+: 6

Recipes adapted from: http://www.closetcooking.com/2012/01/roasted-mushroom-and-green-bean-farro.html and http://www.closetcooking.com/2010/02/balsamic-vinaigrette.html

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and nutrients. I adore their vibrant orange color and health benefits. My husband, however, does not share my affinity for this root vegetable. So, like many other things in our wonderful marriage, we compromise. He loves potatoes (including but not limited to the fried variety) and I only consume them sparingly. With this recipe, he has the satisfaction of having potatoes in the form of “fries,” and I don’t have to worry because they are actually baked. Win-win!

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Some people use a mandolin to achieve perfectly even matchsticks. After a gruesome accident with a mandolin 2 summers ago (ending in a trip to urgent care), I now choose my chef knife in lieu of a perfectly cut potato. I’ll spare you the details, just know you really should cautious if you choose to use that handy kitchen gadget. The warning labels are there for a reason…

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Anyway, this recipe can be easily doubled (or tripled!) and you can adjust the seasonings to your preference. They are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and very quick to throw together even on a weeknight. I beg you to make these instead of reaching for the frozen ones in your grocery’s freezer. These are too easy to pass up. Just chop, mix, and bake.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4″ fries

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 2-3 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

    1. Preheat oven to 425F.

    2. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly to avoid sticking.

    3. In a medium bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes and spices.

    4. Spread fries evenly on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then mix them and bake 10-15 minutes more. Keep an eye on them!

    Serves 2. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 108 Fat: 4.7g Protein: 1.1 g Carb: 15.8 g Fiber: 2.0 g