Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

Farro & Roasted Veg Salad

Deliciously captured by AJF Photography

Granted, I was a willing participant in the jaunt to a vegan restaurant. Despite the good company and a few delicious items, God help me, I still don't understand vegan cuisine. The idea of processing soy into something that could be fashioned into "chicken" and then labeled on a menu as "Tender Tiger" is beyond me. I admire the politics and ideology behind it. Far from me to politicize what's on my plate (soapbox at the ready). But I suppose what's always kept from joining the vegan tempeh-loving bandwagon is the reliance, in many restaurant and freezer cases anyway, on the faux. Oh, and bacon. I could never give up bacon.

Eating a meal of faux/imitation protein from a karmically-safe vegetable product is akin to having sex with a blow up doll. Why bother? Especially when there's a universe of dishes out that rely on food for what it is. A rose is a rose. A carrot is a carrot. A grain of farro is a grain of farro. And how delicious the farro is when it's combined with some diced roasted vegetables. A recipe to so rustic and intuitive to generations of grandmothers, cooks, and hungry folk, it's scarely a recipe. 

And so much more satisfying than a tempeh quesadilla.

Farro & Roasted Veg Salad  

Nowadays you can find farro just about anywhere. Specialty shops and even the bulk bin. What we had in the fridge during a photo shoot was what became our lunch. But any vegetable (summer corn!) roasted is welcome here. It's wonderful warm but also a saving grace to have around in the fridge, there's little time and you're absolutely starving.

1 fennel bulb, diced * 1 red bell pepper, diced * 1 orange bell pepper, diced * 1 zucchini, diced * 5 stalks of asapragus, chopped into similar-sized pieces * extra-virgin olive oil * 1 crushed garlic clove * salt and pepper * 1 1/2 cups farro * 1/2 cup lemon juice or sherry vinegar * Fresh herbs like mint, basil, or parsley

Combine your diced veg on a baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and bake in a 425-degree oven until nicely roasted with bits of caramelization going on around the edges (about 20 minutes). Let cool slightly.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to the water to make it taste like the sea. Add your washed farro and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the roast vegetables (with all the oil from the pan), the lemon juice or sherry vinegar, and fresh herbs you have on hand. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cool.