Wednesday, March 06, 2013

My New Obsession: Rainbow Kale Salad

Last weekend, while on a jaunt to Napa Valley, I saw a farro and kale salad on the menu. While I did not try it, the combination intrigued me, so I set about the make my own version of this healthy dish.

While perusing the produce aisle for ingredients, I found an organic rainbow kale salad (described as a variety of seasonal kales and carrots). The green, purple and orange hues were beautiful and intrigued me, not to mention that the already cleaned and chopped kale would make my job easier, so I grabbed a tub to use as the base of the salad.

Farro is a staple of my pantry, thanks to Giada DeLaurentis, who makes a farro salad with course pesto that is scrumptious. Farro is a variety of wheat that originated in the Haute-Savoie region of France, and is also used in Italian cooking. It has become popular enough that it is now stocked in most of our local grocery stores.

Then I just got creative, letting my palate guide me. I decided to roast the kale salad to get a good crisp on it, mixing it with a bit of olive oil and truffle salt. I just boiled the farro in broth, and poached a few chicken breasts for added protein. Tossed with some additional olive oil, some fresh lemon juice and zest, with a good measure of both parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper, and we had a healthy one-bowl meal, with plenty left over for lunches.  (A vegetarian version can be made by replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth and omitting the chicken. Vegans can omit cheese.)

A week later, I made a slightly different version, adding a half a slivered onion and a few chopped mushrooms to the kale roast, tossed in some leftover grilled chicken, and topped it all with a miso dressing.  Again, a winning combination.

I’m thinking there are endless variations to this kale salad, both cooked and uncooked. What would you do with it?

Kale-Farro Salad

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup farro
pinch salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8-ounce bag/clamshell rainbow kale salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon truffle salt
1/8 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring broth, water, and a pinch of salt to boil in medium saucepan, add farro and stir. Cover slightly and cook for 22-25 minutes stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost completely evaporated.

Meanwhile, poach 2 chicken breasts in water. Depending upon size of breasts, this should take 20-25 minutes.

Place kale salad in roasting pan, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with truffle salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until you’ve got some of the kale nicely browned.

Shred or chop chicken and add to farro. Add in roasted kale salad, 1/8 cup olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and parmesan cheese. Toss well. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately for a warm salad or refrigerate for an hour or more and serve cold.

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