We were tired; we were hungry; I was ready to start on our Mediterranean Grain Salad with Gorgonzola that was to accompany our lemony grilled chicken. We’d been anticipating our tasty dinner all day long. There was just one problem . . .
. . .we didn’t have the main ingredient –the grain.
I guess we could have switched plans and thrown something else together but our hearts were set on a light fresh tasting dish that would compliment our lemon-basted grilled chicken. Mediterranean Grain Salad with Gorgonzola was what we wanted. I planned to use freekeh [FREE-kah] as the grain, and load the salad with delicious vegetables and lots of fresh herbs. The lemony vinaigrette drizzled on the salad would give the dish that bright summery taste.
We’d spent the entire day on Saint Simons Island Pier. Honey was casting a net for fish bait and I was doing all of the hard work — trying to spot the finger mullet in the murky water. 🙂 I thought I had all of the ingredients so once we got back to the house we’d be ready to go. I didn’t realize we didn’t have any freekeh. That’s not until I grabbed the glass jar off the pantry shelf and noticed a small piece of tape with something printed on it stuck to the side of the jar.
I took a closer look — farro.
“Honey, where’s the freekeh?” I asked as he was seasoning the chicken.
“In the glass jar.”
I checked in the cabinet again. “Do we have two glass jars?”
“Nope. Only one.” That’s what I was afraid of. We’d brought the wrong jar. The freekeh was still on the shelf at home 🙁
I guess it’s an easy mistake to make, they’re both similar. They’re ancient grains; they’re good for you; they’re brown; they’re chewy. I really hadn’t wanted to make another farro recipe so soon after the other one. I thought you might be getting tired of Farro and Peas, Warm Tuscan Farro Salad, Farro Appetizer, etc. I really wanted to use a different grain, like freekeh.
I had to make a decision fast! Honey was in the process of grilling the chicken.
Do I go to the store and fight the crazy traffic or do I use farro . . . again?
The grain was cooked and cooled. I tossed it with the halved cherry tomatoes, diced English cucumber, diced red onion , minced fresh parsley, cilantro, and chives. Salt and pepper came next and then a drizzle of the delicious lemon vinaigrette. The grain salad needed to stand so it could absorb all of the yummy lemony goodness. Once we were ready to eat we served the salad in leafy lettuce cups sprinkled with gorgonzola on top and a few Kalamata olives (my Honey’s favorite)surrounding the grain salad .
Oh! What grain did we use? Farro! We’ll save the freekeh for next time 🙂
Now if you want more of a Greek flavor, grill 1/2-inch-thick halloumi cheese slices. Then dice the grilled halloumi and add to the grain salad along with the other ingredients. This grain salad is a perfect dish to make ahead and a wonderful addition to your al fresco dining.
Tutti a tavola è pronto
Un caro saluto e alla prossima
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/4 cup chicken stock ( can use water or a combination of both)
- 1/2 cup farro or use 1/2 cup freekeh
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or olive oil
- 3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
- 2 Tbsp. each minced fresh chives and cilantro
- Gorgonzola crumbles for topping
- Kalamata olives (as many as you like)
- Bibb or Buttercrunch lettuce washed and patted dry for salad bowls
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. oil, and honey; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Measure the 1/2 cup farro into a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain. Transfer the farro to a saucepan and add the stock and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until it is softened but still chewy. If there is liquid remaining in the pan, drain it off and save it to use with soup, stew or sauce. Use a fork to gently fluff in the butter or olive oil. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Toss the farro, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, chives, and cilantro with vinaigrette; season with salt and freshly ground pepper. For the best flavor let the salad stand 15 minutes or even better overnight.
- Arrange the salad leaves to form 2 bowls. Divide the grain salad between the two bowl and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and arrange the Kalamata olive around the salad.
- For a Greek taste: Brush 7 oz. halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Grill covered, until it's heated through, about 2 minutes per side, then dice and add to the other ingredients and toss.
- Adapted: Cuisine Fast & Fresh Summer Meals for Two Summer 2016.
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