When two become one

I enjoy a lot of whole grains, but I get excited about farro. And I know I’ve mentioned my love for kale (green smoothies, Whole Foods’ kale salad, kale chips) on more than one occasion. So put kale and farro in the same dish, and you’ve got two great tastes that taste great together. (Please tell me that at least one person gets that reference.)

I’m still a little bitter that Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day didn’t win The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, but since she was knocked out in the first round by the eventual tournament runner-up (Momofuku Milk Bar), I guess that’s almost like winning. In my mind, anyway. (Oh, and I totally agree with final judge Alice Water’s disappointment in the two Piglet finalists. I leafed through both books a few weeks ago, and felt like I gained five pounds and six cavities by osmosis. I too would have liked to see Nigel Slater make the finals.)

Well, SNED is a winner in my household. If I had a nickel for every time Jeff asks me to make Black Pepper Tempeh, I’d have at least five dollars. Which would barely buy me a latte, but I digress.

I did make Black Pepper Tempeh for the kajillionth time last weekend, but I also made Heidi’s Kale Salad for the second time, to much applause. This salad is best right after it’s made, because the toasted kale pieces and coconut flakes are nice and crispy, but it does make very nice leftovers. Hearty greens like kale stand up well to being dressed and refrigerated, and the farro retains it’s delightful toothsome quality. I remember when the only place in Seattle I could find this Italian grain was at DeLaurenti. I would stare at it in it’s little bags on the store shelf, marveling at it’s exoticness. It’s much easier to come by now, especially in these parts, because Bluebird Grain Farms grows it right here in Washington. It’s also known as emmer. If you can’t find it, the less-expensive and more common wheatberry makes an acceptable substitute. But farro/emmer is very, very nice indeed.

Kale Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 1/2 lightly packed cups (3.5 ounces by weight) chopped kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 ounces) unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 2 cups cooked farro or other whole grain*

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with two racks in the top third of the oven.
  2. Put the kale and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce. Add about 2/3 of the mixture to the kale and coconut, and toss well.
  4. Spread the kale and coconut evenly across two baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, tossing a few times  along the way; swapping the sheets if one is toasting unevenly.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer kale mixture to medium bowl. Taste test. If you think the kale needs more dressing, you can add it to the kale directly, or to the cooked farro.
  6. To serve, either put the farro on a serving platter and top with the kale mixture, or just mix everything together in a bowl. It’s all good!

* To cook farro, follow package directions (if there are any). Otherwise, add one cup farro to four cups water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover undisturbed. Check after 45 minutes. The grains will be chewy yet tender. If they seem too chewy, let them simmer for another 10-15 minutes, bite-testing a grain occasionally. Drain excess water.