Working on the healthy eating endeavor, I have been experimenting with whole grains. Last week, my focus was on the whole grain, farro. Also known as emmer wheat, farro, was one of the first domesticated crops in the Far East. It is actually known as farro mostly in Italy and emmer wheat in other locations. This ancient grain is limited in cultivation in this day in age but production in Italy continues to grow. It is also produced in Morocco, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Albania and in the United States as a specialty product. I had heard about this whole grain, which is filled with nutrients, fiber and protein, from the Food Network. In a mission to find this grain, I searched through Whole Foods and was surprised at how difficult it was to find this item. Finally, in the rice aisle, I came across a little vacuum sealed bag of farro. There was only one expensive option available, but I went for it anyway to give this grain a shot.
After locating the farro, I needed to figure out how to make this into a meal. Without a plan, I wondered through the produce section looking for a vegetable. As I checked out the greens, the red kale stood out to me. So with red kale in hand, I thought about what protein would work best with this. After considering fish, I saw fresh spinach and feta cheese chicken sausage in the meat case. I decided to create a "stir fry" style meal with crumbled chicken sausage, red pepper, red onion, red kale and diced tomato served with farro topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Not knowing what to expect with cooking farro, I was delighted to realize that cooking this grain is actually quite simple and not fussy at all. Following the directions, I allowed for the farro to soak in water for 25 minutes. Then I brought the water and farro to a boil before lowering the heat to a simmer. The farro simmered uncovered for 25-30 minutes, and turned into plump, tasty grains. I would describe this grain as a mix between brown rice and Israeli couscous. Check out this healthy, easy recipe for a great week night meal.
Lizzy M.'s Chicken Sausage and Red Kale "Stir-Fry" with Farro
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, divide in 2 parts
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 medium red onion or half of a large red onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced long and thin
Freshly ground black pepper
2 links chicken sausage (Try a spinach and feta chicken sausage or an Italian chicken sausage. Use 1 link per person.)
2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch of red kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
Farro, cook as directed
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Use parmigiano reggiano as a substitute.)
1. Soak farro for 25 minutes.
2. Bring farro to a boil and then bring the heat down, so the farro is simmering. Allow for the farro to simmer for 25-30 minutes.
3. While the farro is cooking, heat a large saute pan on medium to high heat. Add half of the tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan and a dash of crushed red pepper. Next, add the sliced red onion and red pepper to the pan. Saute for about 3 minutes.
4. Squeeze the chicken sausage out of the casing and into the pan. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage. Saute with the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes. Lower heat if needed.
5. Grate the garlic into the pan and stir well. Allow the garlic to saute for just 1-2 minutes before adding in the diced tomatoes. Cook for about 7 minutes.
6. Pile the red kale into the pan and carefully turn to mix with the other ingredients. Cook the kale with the stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes or until the kale is wilted. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper here if needed.
7. Serve the chicken sausage and kale stir-fry topped with a generous spoonful of farro. Drizzle each plate with the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil and grate fresh Pecorino Romano cheese on top.
Enjoy this healthful, colorful meal any night of the week to provide you and your family with an excellent combination of vitamins, nutrients, fiber and protein. Experiment with different whole grains, and see what you and your family like. There's more out there than just rice and pasta, so try something different today.