I was privileged to attend a cooking demonstration led by Lisa Dahl, restaurateur and new author. She recently released her first cookbook, a gorgeous tome full of incredible photos. The Elixir of Life reflects her love of Tuscan cuisine, and much as I tried to resist, I had to purchase a copy and make this beautiful and delicious salad.
Farro, for those not familiar, is an ancient European grain which has characteristics similar to barley. I found it at Whole Foods Market. The kids and Bill were out of town so I enjoyed this for many meals in a row…lucky me.
Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Marinated Mushrooms…adapted from Lisa Dahl’s recipe in The Elixir of Life
1 pound button or crimini mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed
3/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup minced red onion
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 teaspoon for farro)
1/2 cup canola oil
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup farro
2 small zucchinis, cut into small chunks
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into small chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into small chunks
1 medium onion, cut into small chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Make marinade for mushrooms by whisking together balsamic, soy, and oils. Add onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and thyme and mix. Put mushrooms in bowl and add marinade. Allow mushrooms to marinate at room temperature till they start to absorb marinade, then move to refrigerator for about 4 hours.
Make farro by boiling it in lightly salted water for about 45 minutes. You do not want the farro to boil dry, so you may need to add more water during the cooking process. Drain, gently rinse with cool water and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Set aside.
Roast vegetables in 400º oven. Lisa suggests lining your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. I roasted the zucchini and eggplant for about 35 minutes, first tossing the chunks with a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Then I roasted the peppers and onions in the same fashion except for only 20 minutes. Stir each batch about halfway through the cooking time. You want the vegetables to be tender and golden.
Drain mushrooms reserving marinade. Use 3/4 cup of the marinade to toss with farro and vegetables in a large bowl. Add mushrooms or use for garnish.