Beet and Farro Salad with Smoked Trout

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I have become enamored with farro, an ancient grain that’s a species of wheat. (I love this NPR article that includes a few recipes.)  I saw this recipe as I was about to head out to the farmer’s market. Beets are just coming in now  up here in Minnesota, and I love using both the beet root and tops in dishes. Star Prairie Trout Farm sells at the market – fresh and smoked – and I had some farro on hand, so I was set!  We really enjoyed this and Randy remarked that he would like it equally as a side salad without the trout. A dry rosé wine was a perfect complement.

Adapted from Food and Wine

INGREDIENTS

3 small beets (1/2 pound)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
4 cups water
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro (8 ounces)
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly ground pepper
6 ounces skinless smoked trout fillet, flaked
2 cups chopped beet greens or Swiss chard—stems removed, leaves washed and finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small baking dish, lightly drizzle the beets with olive oil and rub to coat. Cover the dish with foil and roast for about 1 hour, until the beets are tender. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the farro and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and transfer the farro to a bowl. Discard the garlic and herbs. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine the shallot, lemon juice and honey. Gradually whisk in the 1/3 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper.  In a medium bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of the dressing with the trout.

To the farro, add the diced beets, the chopped greens and the remaining dressing and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, scatter the trout on top and serve. (I think this could also be served slightly warm. Definitely the flavors will be more pronounced if not chilled before serving.)

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Aunt Suzy says

One of my favorite things to eat is beets – which is a huge surprise to my adult self!  Growing up we had something my Mom called “Harvard Beets”, which were a sweet and sour affair in a gluey sauce.  I hated them and would do anything to get out of eating them.  Fast forward a few decades and I can’t get enough, especially of the roasted variety.  Even my niece, Sarah, who said she hated beets liked these when I made them on one of her recent visits.  Beets are plentiful right now and will be right up until fall.  This time of year they have especially beautiful and tender greens attached which are delicious.   The beets and greens can be prepared simply as in these recipes or you can use the beets in salads.

ROASTED BEETS

1-2 bunches beets

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place the rack in the upper third of the oven.  Remove the beet greens and set aside if you will be cooking them also.  Cut the stems off the top and the root off the bottom of each beet and then peel with a knife or a vegetable peeler.  Cut into pieces.  If the beets are small, you will want to quarter them; if larger, cut into 1-inch chunks.  Place in a bowl.  Process the garlic through a garlic press into the bowl of beets.  Add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the beets and then toss to thoroughly blend beets, garlic and oil. 

Line a cookie sheet or bottom of a broiler pan with foil.  Turn the beets onto the prepared pan, put in the oven uncovered and roast for 25-35 minutes until they can be pierced with a fork.  Check and stir after 15 minutes.  If cooking the beet greens, serve the beets on top of the greens.  Otherwise turn into a serving dish. 

BEET GREENS

Run a sink full of water and immerse the greens, then drain.  Do this a couple of times to remove all dirt and grit.  Cut off the stems and then slice or tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces.  Place the greens in a collander.  Put enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom into a large dutch oven.  Heat to medium.  Place 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly, into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Turn the heat up to medium high and add the greens a batch at a time.  Stir constantly until the greens are wilted and tender.  Place in a serving bowl and serve with the roasted beets atop the greens or with baked feta and olives.

Baked Feta

May 15, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . . .
A few years ago, I saw this recipe for an appetizer of baked feta cheese in Food & Wine Magazine. I had never heard of baking feta cheese before, but it looked delicious. It turns out it IS delicious!! It’s super easy to make and a hit when served with baguette, crackers and an assortment of olives. Several types of feta are available in solid blocks vs. crumbles, which is what you will need for this dish. For friends who live in Minneapolis, Bill’s on Lake & Aldrich is the place to get it. For those of you who live near a Trader Joe’s, they carry Greek feta in a block. I prefer French sheep’s milk feta when I can find it. Enjoy this beautiful and tasty dish with a Sauvignon Blanc or a French Pinot Noir.

Margaux Says…
Aunt Suzy actually gave me this recipe years back with her “Dinner in a Box” gift that she gave my husband and I as a wedding gift. It was a really fun gift that I will probably do for someone someday: in the year after we were married, four times we received a box from her that contained a menu with recipes, some ingredients and a few cooking implements to go with that we didn’t have yet. One of the menus contained a recipe for roasted beets, and as a side note she included this recipe, as a way to use the beet tops at another meal (you serve the feta on sauteed beet tops). I’ve used it several times now, and I LOVE it! We’ve even served it at a cocktail party, with slices of crusty bread, and it was a hit.

BAKED FETA
Serves 4

½ pound feta cheese cut in a ¾-inch slab
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
¼- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Cut the feta into 4 triangles and place in a glass baking dish. Place the pepper, garlic slices, oregano leaves and lemon zest on top of the cheese. You can vary the quantities of these ingredients to your taste. Pour the olive oil over the cheese carefully so as not to disturb the other ingredients. Marinate 5 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes till custard-like, but not browned. Lift cheese sections onto a serving plate (or individual plates) with a spatula and pour hot olive oil over all.

To serve with beet greens:

one to two bunches beet tops, stems trimmed and chopped into 1″ strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for about a minute, then add greens in bunches and saute until just wilted. Transfer to serving platter, then arrange cheese pieces over top. Pour hot olive oil over all.