I never thought I’d be featured in People magazine, so this is a thrill! I guess I’m kinda a celebrity now? 😉
This recipe is a crowd favorite from Spicebox Kitchen (p65).
If you like to learn from videos, you can also watch me demonstrate it on this recording of my event from last summer (seems like a million years ago!) with Chef Joanne Weir at Copperfield’s Books in Napa.
And, just for readers of SpiceboxTravels, here’s some more background and tips on this recipe. Enjoy!
I started to teach this recipe in my healthy cooking classes in 2013 as a way to get people to enjoy a wider variety of whole grains, greens and herbs. Like many of the best recipes, it’s a hand-me-down. It’s adapted from a recipe by Laura B. Weiss on NPR that was itself adapted from a recipe in Deborah Madison’s 2013 Vegetable Literacy (10 Speed Press).
Farro is one of my favorite grains for texture and flavor, and also from a nutrition perspective, high in fiber, protein as well as B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. The combination of lemon, avocado and basil really captures the sunny flavors of California for me. And it also has a ton of textures– chewy farro, crunchy pistachios, and creamy feta and avocado. It’s a simple recipe with bold flavor and a beautiful presentation with slices of avocado and frilly arugula. This is a very bright tasting salad, very lemon-forward, and also earthy from the cumin and farro. It’s very fresh tasting from the basil and peppery arugula.
It’s a simple and versatile recipe that can also be made ahead. While I think it’s perfect as is, a home cook could also easily substitute the basic ingredients with what they have on hand– a different grain, different greens, different herbs and even different nuts and spices.
Tips from my kitchen:
-Farro can be made in advance, but should be brought to room temperature before serving. Cooks new to farro should know that it can take a long time to cook, but the pearled version (farro perlato) cooks in half the time.
-The vinaigrette can also be made in advance and will keep its flavor for three days, refrigerated. If making in advance, make it in a jar with a lid instead of a using a bowl, and simply shake before using.
-If preparing these ingredients in advance, the salad will look and taste best if the fresh ingredients (greens, herbs and avocados) are added shortly before plating/serving.
-Don’t skip the step of massaging the kale- it’s a great way to tenderize it and make it less bitter
-If you can, toast the pistachios before using, on the stove or in the oven, to enhance crunch and flavor
-A mini-prep food processor is a quick and neat way to chop nuts
-Make the effort to plate this nicely- laying out nicely sliced avocado and sprinkling the pistachios and feta evenly. You can also scatter additional arugula and chopped basil and chives as additional garnish.
If you enjoyed this recipe and don’t have a copy of Spicebox Kitchen yet, I’d be so happy if you get one, available wherever books are sold! And if you’d like to share some love in the form of an Amazon rating or review, I’d really appreciate it! Thank you!
ICYMI, you can take virtual cooking classes with me, at Thrive Kitchen @ Home! Details on each month’s menu and registration info is available here. Let’s cook together!
That is so cool! I love your cookbook but have to admit that I have trouble finding some of the ingredients. I found pigeon peas, but you have to order in huge quantities or the shipping is ridiculous! Do you have any bay area markets that you would recommend? Best, Julia PS You’ve come a long way since your “Food is your medicine” classes at PAMF!
Hi Julia! Thanks for your support. I am glad you are posing this question, as others might be having the same issue. You can get Goya canned pigeon peas at any Latin market, like any of the ones on 24th St in the Mission in San Francisco. And I put together this resource list as well: https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-california/sanfrancisco/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2021/04/Thrive_Kitchen_List_of_Specialty_Ingredients.pdf These are all in San Francisco but hope you find it helpful. Happy cooking!