Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Easy Dinner Recipes for the Family

Easy Dinner Recipes: Seared Fish Tacos

At times the hustle of the day’s events makes preparing a family dinner challenging. Preparing a balanced meal of a protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates takes time, especially when you cook with a lot of plant-based foods. Are there any solutions for making dinner that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time slaving over a stove? Yes, there are. Listed below are links to easy dinner recipes found on my website for a quick and easy reference.

What is an easy dinner? A dinner recipe that requires little prep work and comes together in a reasonable amount of time. There are a couple of solutions to make dinner easier to put together. One short cut is, buy produce already chopped. Many grocery stores offer a wide selection of produce already chopped and ready for cooking. Each item may cost more, but if buying prepared vegetables is the difference between making dinner or not, it is worth the price. I do not usually buy cut up produce because these days I am mostly cooking for two. However, I cannot ignore how buying prepared vegetables saves a lot of time. It is my opinion, the value of cooking and eating a home cooked meal is significant, especially when compared to eating take out dinners.

Another time saver is make dinner in one pan. Sheet pan, or one pot dinners often require minimal prep, work and everything cooks on (or in) one pan. This also makes clean-up a lot easier as well.

All of these recipes easily come together with little prep work, or cooked in one pan or pot, or take a minimal amount of time to cook. Enjoy!

 

Easy dinner Recipe Post, Spanish inspired Mussels

Easy dinners: Shellfish

One of my favorite easy dinner recipe is my Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Sausage. The mussels are cooked in a broth of tomatoes, garlic, wine and Spanish chorizo sausage. The broth comes together in about 20 minutes and the mussels take 5 minutes to cook. I never served this meal to young children, but many adults love this. It is great for entertaining a small group of friends, because you can cook the sauce ahead of time then cook the mussels 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Serve with good crusty bread to soak up the juices and a tossed salad. For a vegetarian option, omit the chorizo sausage.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is another supper easy dinner recipe. This recipe is an older one of mine, but the shrimp and spinach cook up quickly and with little effort. Serve with white or brown rice or your favorite grain.

 

Easy Dinner Recipes: Fish Tacos with Mango and Avocado salsa

Easy dinners: Fish

I honestly believe all my fish recipes on Lemon Thyme and Ginger are easy to make. By nature, fish does not require a lot of cooking time. They are an especially easy dinner to make when the fish is cooked in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill and Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce are both prepared en papilloteSole Stuffed with Herbs is similarly prepared, but it is not tightly sealed in a neat package.

Fish Tacos comes together easily when you buy the cabbage already sliced for coleslaw.

 

Easy Dinner Recipe: roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins.

Easy dinner: Chicken

Another favorite easy dinner are sheet pan meals. I particularity like to use chicken when I make a sheet pan dinner, either bone in or boneless work. The boned chicken will take longer to cook but the chicken does not dry out as much, especially with chicken breasts. If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken route, use chicken thighs, breasts dry out too easily. Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins has minimal prep and is delicious paired with blanched broccoli, green beans or a salad. Oven baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is another easy chicken dinner baked together on one sheet pan.

 

Easy Dinner recipes: Lamb chops

Easy Dinner: Meat

One of my favorite marinades for meat is the sherry marinade used in Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak. It also tastes great with pork tenderloin. Both types of meat benefit from a flavorful marinade. I like to marinate the flank steak over night, but if you want place the flank steak in the marinade first thing in the morning, it will taste just as delicious. If the current weather prohibits you from grilling, pan grill the flank steak on the stove top. You get more browning and caramelized flavor using a grill pan vs the broiler.

The easiest of all meats are lamb chops. They are delicious and quickly cook on a grill or stove-top within a matter of minutes. My recipe for Lamb chops: An early fall harvest dinner for two, describes how to cook lamb chops. In the winter, you can substitute the summer and fall vegetables in this recipe with any vegetable recipe on the blog like, Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots, or Green Beans with Roasted Onions.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Pasta with spicy brussels sprouts and sausage

Easy dinner: Pasta

The fastest and easiest cooked tomato sauce I know is Marcella Hazon’s, Tomato Sauce with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and balsamic vinegar come together for a silky sauce perfect for penne or other tube-shaped pasta. It makes for a light supper, but a satiating one at that. It also tastes delicious over polenta. If you want a more substantial red sauce and pasta meal, make Pasta with Turkey Meat Sauce.

This time of year Brussels sprouts are easily found at most grocery stores, Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage is a real crowd pleaser, especially for the meat lover in your family. For a vegetarian option substitute the sausage with chickpeas or cannellini beans.

 

Easy dinner recipe: Basil Zucchini Frittata

Easy dinner: Eggs

Often when we are in a hurry or low on food, we make a frittata. Basil and Zucchini Frittata is a great quick and easy dinner for the summer, but in the winter substitute the basil and zucchini with left over Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze. Or, make a pasta frittata with left over pasta with turkey meat sauce.

Omelets are another easy dinner choice. However, I prefer to make one omelet at a time as opposed to one big omelet, sliced into individual servings.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Silver Palate chocolate cake

Easy Dessert Recipes:

Swedish Apple Pie is so easy, someone who insists they cannot bake, will have success with this recipe.

Yogurt Panna Cotta is also easy to put together. You can make a spiced fruit sauce with any seasonal fruit.

If a cake is what you want, Silver Palate Chocolate Cake was my go to dessert for many years.

 

If you make any one of my recipes I would love to hear from you. You can share a photo on my Facebook page, or on your Instagram feed and tag me @lemonthymeandginger.

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Top Comfort Food Recipes

Supreme White Chicken Chili, comfort food Recipe

Unfortunately, a small accident left my left hand injured and slightly incapacitated. Fortunately, it is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. My index finger required stitches and it must remain immobile in a splint until the stitches are removed. In the end I should have full use of my hand without any issues other than an unsightly scar. Since I can’t chop or clean, one of the perks of my injury, I thought I would look back through my archives for inspiration. For today’s topic I choose comfort food. Maybe because it is so darn cold I seek the comfort of a hot stew, or steamy bowl of soup. Whatever the reason, I am really in the mood to cook and eat warm comfort food.

One of the first things I plan on cooking when I get the full use of my hands is a beef stew. Winter months call for beef stew. It is a time when I do not mind spending extra hours inside cooking a slow meal. These types of diners fill me with a great sense of satisfaction. I don’t mind the extra time because the process becomes a choreographed dance between, procedure, technique and instinct. When it is all done I feel like I accomplished something special and can’t wait to share the results. Whenever I taste the deep and rich stew flavors, I just melt into the braised masterpiece. Stews and chili’s have humble origins but they taste decadent to me.

Also included in this post is my very first recipe I posted on my blog, Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken. Roast chicken in one of my favorite foods. I updated some of the photos and changed the recipe card to my current recipe plugin so I hope everything is in working order.

Additionally, I included a few links to vegetarian/vegan comfort food entrées. It is my desire that my blog offers a variety of information and recipes for all diet preference. Everyone is always welcome at my table.

Comfort Food Entrées

Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

Beef with Horseradish Sauce

Supreme White Chicken Chili

Roast Lemon and Herb Chicken my very first recipe post on Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Swedish Meatballs

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

For Vegetarian Comfort Food Selections

Roasted Vegetable Coconut Curry

Kabocha Coconut Curry Soup  If you cannot find Kabocha squash, any winter squash will work, especially butternut or pumpkin or both.

Saffron Cauliflower Risotto

Toasted Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary  – Add a hearty green like Swiss chard, kale or spinach and chick peas or any white bean for a complete vegetarian/vegan main course.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

What’s for Dessert?

Double Coconut Pie

Spiced Fig Yogurt Panna Cotta – If you cannot find fresh figs, substitute them with pears, quince

Chocolate Stout Cake This chocolate cake with white chocolate cream frosting and stout glaze is too good to only eat once a year around St Patrick’s Day.

 

Looking for more inspiration? Type an ingredient you wish to cook with in the search box. You will find it in the right side bar. For mobile devices, the search box is usually at the bottom of the home page.

Some Food Blogs I Enjoy

David Lebovitz A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, and is now living in Paris writing books and developing recipes. He has well tested recipes with stories about living in Paris.

Dr Deb Pots: Deborah is a Hudson Valley, psychiatrist, potter and food blogger. Her posts are infrequent, but I like her positive attitude, beautiful pottery, and very healthy meals on her website.

Vanilla and Bean Traci writes a food blog offering vegan and vegetarian recipes and lives in the Pacific Northwest.

The Lemon Apron  Jennifer is a Canadian food blogger with beautiful photographs and recipes

Cloudy Kitchen Erin writes an amazing blog for baking with beautiful photographs. She is originally from New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Food 52, everything and anything you want to know about food and cooking. It has an extensive community as well as an online store to buy kitchen wares. New York City based.

If you make any of my recipes post a picture on Instagram and tag me @lemonthymeandginger, or share on my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing form you.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

I love it when everything just falls into place without extra planning or trips to the store. When a spontaneous idea and a refrigerator packed with leftover food from the holidays fit together perfectly like pieces in a puzzle. Today, as I stared into the obis of my stuffed refrigerator an idea for tonight’s dinner just fell into place. As my eyes traveled from the stacks of containers filled with rice to the other remains of our holiday meal it dawned on me, I could make fried rice. I have plenty of rice and salmon, now all I need is cabbage.

Searching through the maze of leftovers was like looking for a misplaced set of keys. “I know it’s in here somewhere”. That one missing thing which is usually right in front of your nose but, you can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, without emptying my whole refrigerator I found what I was looking for staring right back at me, was a container full of roasted Brussels sprouts. Ah ha, Brussels sprouts are members of the cabbage family, right? Yes. Whoop whoop, no need to run to the store, I’ve got everything I need all in one place. A dinner of fried rice solves four problems at the same time: use up some of the rice, use up some of the Christmas Eve dinner leftovers, clear out space in my refrigerator, and make tonight’s dinner.  Fried rice made with poached salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for the win.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

This recipe is lightly based on an old recipe in Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook, Fried Rice with Shrimp. I used it as a foundation along with one in Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. My recipe builds on the concept of making a substantial meal from ingredients that by themselves are too small. One 8-ounce piece of salmon isn’t big enough to feed a family. However, when you combine it with ingredients like rice and vegetables, it makes a full meal with plenty to go around. My family loves fried rice and always orders it when we eat out for Chinese food. Why not make it at home and use up some of the leftovers? It is too good to save for takeout.

I made fried rice with salmon because that is what I have, but if you have tons of turkey, ham, pork, chicken, or goose from Christmas dinner you can’t go wrong mixing any of those foods with fried rice. You can also switch up the vegetables. Instead of cabbage or Brussels sprouts use, broccoli, asparagus, peas, sugar snap peas, kale, green beans, or Swiss chard. You can make it with prepared food, or entirely from scratch. Heat up, or cook each ingredient separately in a wok or skillet, then toss everything together with a soy sauce and sherry seasoning.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

A nice garnish with the salmon fried rice is removing the skin off the salmon and frying it. You get very crispy salmon skin pieces to mix in with the soft rice. It is a nice contrast and tastes great. I cut the skin into strips then fried it in peanut oil. You could fry the skin whole then break it into smaller pieces if you wish. Just cook it till it is dark brown and very crispy then sprinkle some salt over the crackly skin when you are done.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

 

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Category: side dish or entree

Cuisine: Asian American

7 1/2 cups fried rice

Serving Size: 4 - 12 oz

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Fried rice is a great meal to make when you have lots of leftovers, whether it is salmon and Brussels sprouts or turkey and broccoli. Anything goes. This recipe is slightly sweet from the sherry or vermouth with just a hint of spice. A real family favorite. Fried rice works best with day old rice. Freshly made rice is too moist and will get sticky.

Ingredients

  • 5 TB peanut oil or canola oil (divided)
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 lb (8 large) shrimp, cut into thirds (optional)
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • 8 oz (201 g) cooked salmon
  • 1 onion thinly sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 7 oz (201 g) cooked Brussels sprouts, slivered (or 1/2 half a head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced)
  • 1-2 medium carrots (2.25 oz / 61 g) julienne
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups (14.5 oz / 412 g) cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sherry or vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB sherry vinegar
  • Garnish with fried salmon skin, or chopped peanuts, sliced scallions, or sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 TB peanut oil or canola oil in a large skillet, set at medium high. Add the half of the minced ginger and minced garlic and sauté until soft, but not brown. Add the prepared shrimp and cook until just done. The shrimp will no longer be translucent, and are tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate and reserve. Add the salmon and sear on the top and bottom sides of the salmon of a couple of minutes. Remove the salmon and reserve.
  2. Add 2 TB of peanut oil or canola oil to the pan and heat. When warm add sliced onion and cook until soften, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts (or fresh Napa cabbage) and cook until warmed through. If you are cooking fresh vegetables cook until soft but retains some of the bright green color, about 10 minutes. Season the vegetables with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  3. If using peas add them to the vegetables and cook until heated through. Remove the vegetables from the pan and keep warm.
  4. Combine the soy sauce, vermouth or sherry, and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Wipe out the pan and add the last tablespoon of oil and heat up. Add the rice and cook until warmed through.
  6. Break apart the salmon to large flaky pieces and add to the rice. Add the vegetables, shrimp and soy/sherry or vermouth mixture and toss to coat. Cook until the rice mixture is hot.
  7. Make a well in the center of the rice and pour the eggs into the well. Cook undisturbed for about one minute then stir the eggs with a fork to encourage the eggs to make small curds. Mix the eggs with rice and vegetables until cooked through.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the sherry vinegar. Stir.
  9. Garnish with your favorite garnishes, like sliced scallions, parsley, basil, chopped salted peanuts or pistachios, salmon skin cracklings, or sesame seeds.
  10. Serve immediately.

Notes

To make the fried salmon skin, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a skillet or wok and heat on medium high. Add the skin to the hot skillet and cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Stir to cook the skin on all sides and not burn. When crisp and brown, remove the skin using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Sprinkle with a small pinch of Kosher salt.

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Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts is a new twist on a favorite family recipe.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

I love curries and I love vegetables, but when I cook them together, the vegetables just fall apart. Despite my best efforts, the cauliflower and sweet potatoes always break apart in the sauce. Vegetable curry is one of my favorite meals, but I was ready to give up on it. Fortunately, a few years ago I mentioned my frustration to one of my brother’s in law, and he suggested roasting the vegetables instead of boiling them in the sauce. His suggestion was so simple, but was the perfect solution to improve the curry’s texture.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

The original recipe is from Fine Cooking, “South Indian Style Vegetable Curry” by Ellie Krieger, which I’ve made several times. Unfortunately, the vegetables went from perfect to overcooked in a matter of seconds. Roasting the cauliflower flowerettes and sweet potato chunks made a huge difference in appearance and taste. This technique developed vegetables with a firmer texture and a sweeter flavor. As a result, the curry sauce did not overwhelm the vegetables, but created more body to stand up against the complexity of the spices. My beloved vegetable curry recipe was reborn.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

Not that the sauce needed more flavor, but I couldn’t stop myself and added an additional curry spice blend to the roasted vegetables. To compliment the existing spices in the vegetable curry recipe, I sprinkled Massale curry, over the cauliflower and sweet potatoes. It is a sweet curry spice blend, like spices used in the vegetable curry.

The downside to roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes is, that the curry is no longer a one pot meal. Now, it is a one pot and one sheet-pan meal. Despite the additional cleanup, this recipe is worth the extra step because the cauliflower and sweet potatoes taste so much better this way. Besides, cleaning the sheet pan is easy if you deglaze it with extra vegetable stock then add the stock to the curry. This extra step is up to you if you want it. The good news is, that the vegetables roast while the onions, carrots, tomatoes and Swiss chard cook in the curry sauce on the stove. If timed right, both sets of vegetables will finish cooking around the same time.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

If you want more vegan meals check out these links: Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille  and Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Apricots and Pistachios. 

Fine Cooking and Ellie Krieger wrote a solid recipe, but I made several changes for extra depth of flavor. Roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes is key for creating a substantial body with the curry. Everything else I changed to enhance the flavor. First, I added wine to brighten the flavors. Then I swapped Swiss chard for the spinach to make it more substantial and added raisins because curries need some fruit to counter the heat. My last change is adding salted cashews for a garnish with some cilantro. The cashews add a crunchy bite against the tender vegetables while also adding more protein.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instruction scare you away. Making this curry is not as complicated as the lengthy lists implies. Like any vegetarian meal, the biggest hurdle is chopping all the vegetables. Once the chopping is done, the cooking is very straightforward.

Vegetable curry is a great meal for a vegetarian/vegan dinner. I love how the coconut milk compliments this signature blend of sweet and savory spices, especially the cinnamon. During these colder months, vegetable curry is a big soothing bowl full of comfort and joy.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

Indian Style Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Entrée

Cuisine: Vegan / Vegetarian

6 servings

Indian Style Vegetable Curry

The warm spices of coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne meld together with coconut milk and an array of vegetables making and Indian style curry with just the right amount of heat. Roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes helps them to retain their shape in the curry and not break down.

A mixture of broccoli and cauliflower also works nicely in the curry, but add more cauliflower than broccoli. Spinach can be substituted for the Swiss Chard, however add the spinach towards the end of cooking when you add the roasted vegetables. The spinach does not need as much time to cook as Swiss chard does.

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking South Indian Style Vegetable Curry.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, (1 large or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide wedges
  • 1 tsp curry spice blend (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 TB (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 2-inch (5 cm) piece ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 2-3 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 1-13.6 fl oz (403 ml) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup (375 ml) vegetable stock
  • 3 medium size carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
  • 4 oz (125 g) Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into bite size pieces, the leaves sliced across the width
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) raisins
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-15 oz (425 g) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Handful of salted cashews rough chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C / Gas Mark 6) and place the rack in the middle position.
  2. Arrange the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and onion slices on a large sheet pan in an even layer. Drizzle 2 TB (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, the Kosher salt, and ground curry (if using) over the vegetables and toss until the vegetables are evenly coated. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast until just tender, about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, check for doneness by piercing the cauliflower and sweet potatoes to see if they are tender. Continue to roast the vegetables, checking every 10 minutes as needed. You want the vegetables to be just cooked through and not too soft.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a 5 qt (4.75 L) Dutch oven over medium high heat then add the remaining 2 TB (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the minced onions and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. While cooking, stir every now and then so the onions don't stick to the pan.
  4. Add the minced garlic and minced ginger to the cooked onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard stem pieces and stir to coat and cook for a minute.
  5. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick to the pan and stir to mix. Gently toast the spices for one minute.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine mostly evaporates.
  7. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and stir until the coconut cream and water is mixed together.
  8. Add the carrots, Swiss chard, and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the pot every now and then to keep the coconut milk from separating. Control the heat and keep the sauce at a simmer and not a brisk boil. This will keep the coconut milk from curdling.
  9. Once the roasted vegetables and the vegetables in the curry sauce are done, add the roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and raisins to the pot with the carrots, tomatoes, and Swiss Chard. Stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes to warm up the chickpeas.
  10. Turn off heat, and add the lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.
  11. Garnish with chopped cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve with white or brown rice.
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South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Toasted Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary

Toasted farro with mushrooms and rosemary recipe

One ancient grain that is making a new impression in today’s modern diet is farro. I discovered it a few years ago by accident when I bought it instead of fregola. My lapse in memory steered me off course, because farro is a wheat and fregola is a pasta made with semolina flour. These items don’t belong in the same aisle at the grocery store. Fortunately, this mistake was well worth making and I have cooked farro ever since.

Toasted Farro with mushroom and rosemary recipe

About Farro

Farro is a whole grain with an ancient pedigree. This grain was a staple wheat that fed ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean and Middle East. According to The Spruce, farro might be the mother wheat from which all wheat comes from. Honestly, I am more confused now than before I stared researching farro. Apparently, some confusion exists about the name or I should say, names. I don’t know if it is made by combining three wheat varieties – einkorn, emmer and spelt. Or, identified as either of the three wheat varieties. Or, all of the above. After reading the two previously linked articles and this one from NPR, I think it is all of the above.

Toasted farro with mushrooms and rosemary recipe.

Ultimately, what is important to know is the variety of farro. The variety determines how you must prepare your farro and how long to cook it. The three varieties are, whole, semi-pearled, and pearled. Whole grain farro has the whole grain intact and needs overnight soaking before cooking. The semi-pearled and pearled varieties have the bran partially or completely removed. Without the bran, farro cooks faster and does not need soaking. My grocery store only carries pearled farro, so I do not have experience cooking with the other varieties. Because of the different varieties I recommend reading the label and directions carefully. This way you know what type of farro you have and how long to cook it.

Despite the varieties and confusion, farro is a delicious grain and worth making. I like its nutty flavor and chewy texture. The complexity of flavor adds more depth and is a nice substitute for rice or potatoes. Usually, I make it for a side dish with roasted meats. This way, while the meat roasts, it is easy to focus my attention on making the farro.

   Pair farro with  Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken (without the roasted veggies)

 

Toasted Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary recipe

Dried porcini mushrooms and powder.

Cooking with Farro

For this recipe I craved something with the creaminess of a risotto, but not as rich and requiring less effort. Mushrooms add smooth and silky texture to grains and are in season now. They make the grains taste creamy without adding dairy. There is a pound of mushrooms sautéed with two types of onions in this meal for a super luxurious feel and earthy flavor. I combined cremini mushrooms and button mushrooms, yet any mushroom combination will work.

Additionally, I added some dried porcini mushroom powder for extra depth. This is optional, but is an economical and effective way to add wild mushroom flavor. If only white button mushrooms are available, I recommend adding the dried mushroom powder to boost the mushroom flavor. To make it, grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder until it turns into a fine powder. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid in your pantry. Just a small amount of the dried mushroom powder adds a lot of body to any meal.

Toasted farro with mushrooms and rosemary recipe.

Toasted Farro with mushrooms and rosemary recipe.

Whenever I cook with grains, I like to make them easily adaptable into a vegetarian or vegan main dish. By itself, farro with mushrooms and rosemary is not a complete protein source. With the added cashews, this is a nutritionally dense side dish. Add cannellini beans or lentils, and this transforms into a protein packed plant-based meal. Grains and legumes are complimentary proteins, so when combined in one meal all the amino acids are available. Because semi-pearled or pearled farro has some or all the bran removed, these types of grains do not make a complete protein when combined with legumes. Yet, it is a great vegan option.

Toasted farro with mushrooms and rosemary recipe.

How to Cook Farro

Instead of following the directions on the back label of my farro, I followed the recommendation from Joshua McFadden in his Six Seasons Cookbook. First, I toasted the farro in a large skillet with smashed garlic and red pepper flakes. Once toasted, I added water and a bay leaf, covered the pan and let it simmer until done. I like making rice like this too. Toasting grains in a skillet brings out the nuttiness in the grain and the fragrance is delightful. It cooks faster too. Unfortunately, toasting farro and sautéing the mushrooms requires the use of two large skillets. If you only have one skillet, use a 4 or 5-quart Dutch Oven for the mushrooms, and a 10-inch skillet for the farro. Sautéing vegetables and toasting grains requires a wide surface area to prevent the food from steaming.

With the sautéed mushrooms and onions an ancient grain comes to life with rich flavors. I got the desired creaminess of risotto without all the stirring and extra cheese. Like chatting with a dear friend, farro with mushrooms and rosemary provides sustenance and comfort after a day’s work.

Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Category: Side Dish or Vegetarian Main

Cuisine: Italian American

8 servings

Serving Size: 4 oz

Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary

Farro is an ancient wheat that is still popular in Italy. It has a nutty flavor and is perfect made into a side dish with roast chicken or pork. I love the creaminess sautéed mushrooms brings when combined with grains so I added a full pound of mushrooms to compliment the farro. For added texture and nuttier flavor, I added cashews. Sherry vinegar added at the end of cooking, brightens the earthy meal. If you can't find sherry vinegar substitute it with red wine vinegar or lemon juice.

I toast farro using pearlized farro. Whole farro needs to be soaked overnight, to soften the bran, then simmered in water the next day. It is hard to toast grains that are saturated with water so this technique might not work. However, you can still enjoy this recipe using whole farro. Siimply follow the cooking instructions given with the farro, then add the cooked farro to the sautéed mushrooms and onions.

For a vegetarian entrée: add cannellini beans, lentils, or chickpeas, and sautéed greens with the farro.

Ingredients

    For the Farro
  • 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushes
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup (188 g) pearled farro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
    For the Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary
  • 2 TB Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, minced reserve leaves for later
  • 8 oz (225 g) baby bella mushrooms
  • 8 oz (225 g) button mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried powder* (optional)
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary,
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB sherry vinegar
  • 2 oz (62 g) lightly salted cashews, rough chopped
  • More rosemary and celery leaves for garnish

Instructions

    Make the Farro
  1. Place a large skillet on a burner and turn the heat to medium. Add the olive oil. Just when the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the crushed garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat and gently sauté until the garlic begins to brown and soften, about 3 minutes. Add the farro and bay leaf and stir to coat. Constantly stir the grains while toasting so they do not burn. Toast the farro until it begins to brown and become fragrant. Add the water and Kosher salt then bring to boil. Cover the skillet and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook the farro until tender but still has a bite. It should not be mushy or the grain split open. Start tasting the farro at 15 minutes for doneness and continue as needed. When the farro is just cooked, drain the water and remove the bay leaf.
    Putting it all together
  1. Meanwhile heat up a large skillet and add 2 TB olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the celery onions and shallots. Stir to combine. Remove the rosemary leaves off its stem and add the stem to the onions and celery. Reserve the rosemary leaves for later. Sauté on medium heat until the vegetables get tender and the onions translucent. Add a small pinch of Kosher salt, about 1/4 tsp and stir.
  2. Add all the mushrooms and stir to get them nicely coated with oil. Continue to cook and occasionally stir until all the juices from the mushrooms evaporates.
  3. Scoop out a tablespoon of the farro cooking liquid and add it plus 1 teaspoon of the dried mushroom powder to the mushrooms. Stir until mixed in. Taste and correct the seasoning for salt. Remove the rosemary stems and stir in the butter.
  4. When the farro is cooked al dente, and drained from the water, add it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir. Add the minced rosemary and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add a few grinds of the fresh pepper and one tablespoon of sherry vinegar, turn off the heat and stir.
  5. Garnish with chopped cashews, chopped celery leaves, and chopped rosemary. This dish can be made ahead and reheated later. Add the cashews and herb garnishes just before serving.
  6. Serve hot as a side dish.

Notes

To make the dried mushroom powder. Add a small handful of dried mushrooms to a clean spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Continue until you used up all your dried mushrooms. Put the mushroom powder in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in your pantry for 3 months. This mushroom powder recipe is from My Master Recipes by Patricia Wells .

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