Oh my goodness, let’s talk about cooking in season! I went down to the Union Square farmer’s market a couple days ago and just LOVED what I found ripened for the end of the summer harvest. I found beautiful bundles of fresh purple kale and candy cane beets, which I had never cooked with before. I knew I had to try out something fun!
I love grain salads- especially in the summer. Maybe it stems from eating tabbouleh (a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, bulgur, mint, parsley and other deliciousness) all my life, but I find them very satisfying while not feeling too heavy after. Plus, with grains you have a blank slate! I love farro. It’s nutty, chewy, hearty and soaks up flavor really well. I decided to take this recipe a little on the sweeter side because I knew it would compliment the beets really well. If you can’t find candy cane beets, yellow works too. I paired this salad with my standard recipe for sautéed chicken breast. This will serve 4-6 portions. Enjoy!
Candy Cane Beet and Farro Salad with an Apple Cider Vinaigrette (Vegan) and Lemon and Garlic Pan Seared Chicken Breast
- 1 lb chicken breast (pictured only 1/2 lb)
- 1 large lemon
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 bag quick cook farro (find at Trader Joe’s)
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 1/2 bunch of purple kale
- 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 bunch candy cane beets
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar reduction
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp herbs de provence
- salt and pepper
- feta cheese for garnish
First, let’s get the chicken marinated. If you’re not making chicken, scroll down :).
In a medium sized bowl add the juice of the lemon, grate or smash the garlic cloves, add olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
Add in the chicken breasts, coat really well in the mixture, cover the bowl in saran wrap and stick in in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to marinate.
Now it’s time to let our all-star shine! Look at these babies! I got so excited when I cut into my first one.
Bring a good sized pot of water to a boil. While it’s heating up, wash your beets well (they’ll still be a bit dirty), and with the skins still on, cut them into quarters.
Transfer them to the pot when the water is at a gentle simmer and keep it cooking on medium until the beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
While the beets are cooking, we’re going to make the dressing! It’s easy to mix all the ingredients at the bottom of a large bowl, so there’s less clean up. One of my favorite finds is this cider syrup from Carr’s Ciderhouse based out of MA. (You can buy it here: http://www.carrsciderhouse.com/purchase-new/) I was gifted this by a friend who works at farm that carries all local goods. This stuff is great. It’s the cider equivalent of aged balsamic vinegar. It’s sweet and thick. You can use it in dressings, marinades, on pancakes…it even tastes great mixed in drinks! If you can’t get your hands on this, a nice aged balsamic vinegar with honey or a glaze will do. Having the thickness is the key to the dressing.
With the syrup and lemon juice at the bottom, slowly whisk in the olive oil and spices, salt and pepper until it’s emulsified. Set aside.
Once you’re done with that, cook the farro. I love the TJ’s brand because you cook it like pasta and it’s ready in 10 minutes!
Gah, blurry picture! While the farro is cooking, slice your red onions and thinly slice your kale. I rolled my kale and cut it in a chiffonade style so it could really soak up the dressing and be tender without having to cook it!
By this point, the beets should be ready. Drain them, let them cool a bit and then peel the skins off. They’ll slide off really easily! Just don’t burn your fingers.
Once the farro is cooked, drain it and put it directly on the salad. This will slightly wilt the kale and take the edge of the raw onion flavor.
Mix together and add in your raisins, beets and pine nuts. Set aside and let the flavor melding get to work!
In a non stick skillet, cook your chicken on medium high. Don’t add any of the extra marinade. You want just the chicken breasts. You also don’t need to add any extra oil to the pan because the chicken has been soaking in it. My pieces of chicken were on the thicker side, so required about 7-8 minutes per side. I could tell when they were done by the finger test. Take your thumb and touch your ring finger. Gently press on the inner part of your hand below your thumb. That’s what well done chicken should feel like in the pan!
When it’s done, slice it in strips to serve with the salad.
I covered mine in a healthy portion of feta because it’s what I had on hand, but gorgonzola or bleu cheese would have been great as well!
As always- like, comment and share! Let me know what recipes you want to see next!