i like food. there are a few very memorable meals that i still dream about, years later: the kebabs at amalfi in rockland, maine ... the eggplant fries at the cookery in door county, wisconsin ... the lobster roll at ltk in boston ... the steak at the steak place in guayaquil, ecuador ... the barbecue at the now-defunct pickled parrot in minneapolis ... etc.
and now, this salad.
a few weeks ago, marc had a lunch meeting cancel at the last minute, so we took the opportunity to head to ciao bella, home of the amazing avocado bruschetta that they no longer make. sadly, regular bruschetta was missing from the menu that day as well, so we opted for a salad before our sandwiches. the description of the heirloom grains salad piqued my interest:
organic quinoa, heirloom farro, avocado, red pepper, asparagus, spinach, heart of palm, provolone, parm-reg, lemon vinaigrette.
sounded like something we would eat.
and eat it, we did. we practically licked the bowl.
after i got home, i googled furiously to see if there might be something that closely resembled this salad on some recipe site. luckily, someone else was crazy about it, and a recipe appeared:
ciao bella/zelo heirloom grains salad
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup farro
(sidenote: our target carries farro in little 8 oz pre-cooked bags. you heat it up for 90 seconds and then let it cool. much easier. check your local tarjay.)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 scallions, rinsed and sliced on the bias, divided.
1 cup beef or vegetable broth
1/2 avocado, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons lemon juice
8 asparagus spears, blanched, popped into cold water and sliced on the bias
1 cup loosely packed, chopped, fresh spinach
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 hearts of palm, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
2 ounces fresh provolone cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
(sidenote #2: i used fontina. just as yummy.)
1 cup shaved fresh parmesan, divided.
(sidenote #3: i used the shredded stuff that you find in the deli section. no one called the fancy parm police.)
Zest of 1 lemon
In a medium saucepan, cook the quinoa according to directions on package. (If not pre-rinsed be sure to rinse before cooking.)
In another medium saucepan, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 2/3 of sliced scallions and saute until clear. Add farro and stir to blend, then slowly add 1 cup beef or vegetable broth while stirring. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed (About 30 minutes, add broth by tablespoons if necessary).
(yet another sidenote: skip the first two steps if you happen to find farro at target.)
Set aside and cool to room temperature.
In a large salad bowl, add avocado and pour lemon juice over the diced pieces; toss to cover. Then add remaining scallions, asparagus, spinach, sliced tomatoes, hearts of palm and provolone. Add farro, quinoa and olive oil to the mixture along with lemon zest and half the shaved Parmesan. Gently stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Use remaining Parmesan to top each serving.
and ... voila.
super simple. super fresh. super, presumably, healthy. i made some broiled salmon and we ate it with the salad and it was wonderful. even henry liked it, and he doesn't like salad. (truth be told: he doesn't like salad dressing. this, the dressing is mixed in. it's invisible. so he ate it.)
try it. and then let me know how soon it is before you make it again because you just can't handle not eating this every single day.