Strawberry Basil Salad with Balsamic Glaze
I found this recipe by blogger Celeste while looking for something neat to do with the season's first strawberries and a bunch of basil from our SW Florida Produce Co-op. Serves two plus a lunch portion.
1 cup uncooked Farro
2 cups quartered Strawberries
1/2 cup diced Red Onion
Juice of a medium Lemon
1/4 cup torn or chopped fresh Basil
1/2 cup Nuts -- chopped Walnuts or Pecans, Pine Nuts if you're rich.
1/4 cup halved Green Olives or Caper Berries (not capers themselves, which are seeds)
1/4 cup Craisins
1/4 cup diced Cucumber
Balsamic Glaze -- see below
Farro is an ancient grain; some food scientists think it is the Mother grain, from which wheat, emmer, barley, rye, etc. were all derived by primitive genetic manipulation (not gene tweaking, but rather Mendelevian genetics).
Cook up the cup of Farro in 3 cups of water -- a rice cooker works just fine. After cooking, rinse the cooked grain to get rid of most of the stickiness, and spread it out to let it dry.
Here's the Farro cooked and then toasted to help it dry.
You can also just cook Farro in a pot on the stovetop, or treat it sort of like a risotto. You could even toast the cooked grain under your broiler for an added layer of flavor. That's what I'm going to do next week -- toast the grain a bit first, then cook it up like those Rice-aroni things we used to get, and then treat it like a risotto -- adding tons of mushrooms as I add the liquid.
While the grain is cooking, chop the onion, basil and strawberries, etc.
Top: craisins, strawberry quarters, chopped pecans
Middle: cucumber, basil
Bottom: balsamic glaze
Bottom: balsamic glaze
Assemble the salad items and toss to combine well. Plate, and then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
Observations: This is a really good "not a salad" salad! Would have been better if I had put the red onion in and left the craisins out. Next time I'll cop or rip the basil, not cut it chiffonade. A handful of crumbled feta or even sharp white cheddar would not go amiss here, either. You want a good balance of sweet, salty and sour or tart, whatever you add to this dish.
In a small pot, simmer together twice as much balsamic vinegar as maple syrup (or honey) until the liquid is reduced by half and the result coats the back of a spoon. I started with a cup of vinegar (use the cheap stuff) and half a cup of seagrape honey (because that's what I had... again use the cheap stuff if you have it). When reduced, cool and reserve. Can be stored in the fridge for weeks.
Apple Yam Bake
I first posted this recipe back in 2014.
1 large Honeycrisp or Ambrosia Apple
1 large fairly cylindrical Yam
1/2 cup Sweet Onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup Golden Raisins, minced
1/2 cup Apple nectar
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Orange juice with pulp
1 tsp "Curry Powder" of your choice
1 tsp powdered Ginger, or 1 Tbsp fresh grated Ginger
Fillet the apple as I've shown you in the past. Cut the 'half moon' slices 1/8" thick.
Peel the yam, microwave it for a few minutes to soften them just a bit for easier slicing. Halve the yam lengthwise and slice it into 1/8" thick half moons as well.
Arrange alternating slices of apple and yam in a fan around a 9" pie pan. Stack additional slices of each in the center, to fill the pan.
Combine the juices, raisins, garlic, curry powder and ginger in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 6-8 minutes to combine the flavors. In a small skillet, sweat the onions until fragrant and translucent, but don't let them brown.
Place the onions in the center of the apple-yam fan, pour the juice overall and bake in a pre-heated 375F oven, covered, for 30 minutes until the yams are fork tender.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate to serve the next day. Makes a great holiday Potluck dish!