Spring Farro Salad

Spring Farro Salad

Spring is officially here! What better way to kick off this season than with a delicious spring farro salad that is easy to make and packed with flavor. Plump chewy and lovely nutty farro grains are the star of this recipe.

Spring-Farro-SaladFarro is an ancient grain high in protein that is grown in Emilia-Romana, Tuscany and other regions of Italy. Combine these little flavorful wheat berries with seasonal vegetables and a lemon Dijon vinaigrette and you have yourself one delicious main course or side dish.

Spring Farro Salad I created this recipe for my cooking shows with Smeg in Chicago and New York City. While Spring had sprung in Italy, little did I know that a snow storm would be heading my way when we landed in Chicago last week! We arrived with sunshine and optimal temps but awoke to a flurry of snow. It was quite a sight. Luckily it was just a one day ordeal and the snow quickly melted in the following days. Thank goodness! I am so over winter…bring on spring and all the good seasonal fruits & veggies, t-shirts and light weight coats and longer days of sunshine.

Spring Farro Salad
 
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This delicious spring farro salad with lemon and dijon vinaigrette is easy to make and packed with flavor. Enjoy!
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1½ (300g) cups farro (emmer)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 carrots, chopped or grated
  • 1 fennel, chopped or grated
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup packed organic spinach (1 oz, 30g), chopped
  • 3.5 oz (100g) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 tablespoons (6g) chopped chives
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  • Zest from ½ organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoon (30g) Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add the farro and water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. In the meantime, add of the ingredients for the sauce to a bowl and stir.
  3. When the farro is done, drain and pour into a serving bowl. Add the carrots, fennel, radishes, spinach, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives and the sauce. Mix well. Serve warm or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator and serve cold. Buon appetito!

Here are some photos of the shows in Chicago at Williams-Sonoma , Eataly, Bloomingdales and the IHHS tradeshow . We had a great time in Chicago and are now having a lot of fun at our shows in NYC. If you want to see more photos, check out my Facebook or Instagram pages.  March 26, I will be at Bloomingdale’s NY 59th from 12-2pm and will be making this salad along with beet farro crepes topped with ricotta, blood oranges, pistachios, honey and aged balsamic vinegar. I look forward to hopefully seeing you there!

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

So what does International Women’s Day and homemade saffron gnocchi have in common? Well, if you have ever visited Italy on this day, this dish may remind you of the mimosa spring that is given to women to celebrate March 8th,, La Festa delle Donne. All throughout Italy, you’ll find this lovely yellow blossom handed to women as a symbol of love, appreciation and when given woman to woman, as a sign of solidarity.

This lovely Italian tradition inspired me to create a dish that resembles the mimosa. Cooking a homemade meal is my favorite way to show a gesture of my love, so dear readers, this mimosa dish is for you.This is my gesture of solidarity and admiration towards women. We are stronger today than ever before, we love to share and give, we love to create, we love to cultivate and we especially love to grow. We’re like these fluffy gnocchi: simple in nature, good and each piece, is one of a kind. 

Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi
 
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Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends to celebrate International Women’s Day. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • For the gnocchi:
  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes suitable for gnocchi
  • 1½ to 2½ cups (150-300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • For the saffron sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter
  • 8oz (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons of hot water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. Wash the potatoes with their skins on. Drop them into a large pot, fill with cold water, then bring them to boil over medium-high heat until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain. While hot, peel them then pass them through a potato masher, letting them fall onto a large floured workspace.
  2. In a small cup, add the hot water and saffron threads. Allow them to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add half of the flour, a few pinches of salt and work the flour and potatoes together. Make a well and add the egg and continue kneading the mixture, adding little by little more flour until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough into a large loaf, then cut into slices like you would a loaf of bread. Roll out each slice into a small looking bread stick, making sure to use a small amount of flour so it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Slice into small pieces. For regular gnocchi, you can cook right away or roll off the tins of a fork to create marks or for festive gnocchi that look like the mimosa flower, a symbol of  La Festa della Donne or Women’s Day, roll each piece into a ball.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  5. In the meantime, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the heavy cream. Add the infused saffron water (you can also filter the water if you don’t want saffron threads to show), salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Salt the water with 1-2 tablespoons of coarse salt and add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top;1-2 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the gnocchi to the skillet. Add a spoonful or two of cooking water. Mix until the sauce is the right consistency and remove from heat. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Buon appetito!

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-3

 

V.E.G.E.T.A.B.L.E.S.

Oh, how I’ve missed you! While Mr. Italicano and I were on our west coast food tour we spent most of a month eating out while we worked and traveled. On one hand I was excited and delighted to try new restaurants :: ristoranti in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver; on the other hand, I was itching to get back in my kitchen in Italy to create new healthy recipes made from fresh seasonal vegetables from my local farmer’s market.

And, that’s exactly what we did.

The day after we got back to Italy, we headed out to the farmer’s market and loaded up on fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. For our first lunch I made a simple green salad loaded with succulent Sicilian blood oranges, chia seeds, feta and walnuts; this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish with grated ginger and zested lemon and a big bowl of paccheri pasta with calamaretti :: baby squid, that I seasoned with Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. These vegetarian and pescatarian recipes were so quick and simple to make and were packed with wholesome goodness.Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-1aRoasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-2-bOne of the biggest problems about eating out in America is that is EXPENSIVE TO EAT WELL! For a fast food meal made with refined flour, sugars and GMO ingredients, you can spend under $15 for two. If you go to a mid-range chain restaurant with even nice decor and great service, commonly you’ll still pretty much get the same quality but spend over $60 for two dishes and drinks (taxes and tip included). Both options left us unsatisfied with the quality of our food, but more importantly put the quality of our health at risk :: rischio! We went to these places a few times out of convenience, and after having eaten both Mr. Italicano and I felt sluggish, not mentally alert, bloated and scandalized on how much we spent. I’m convinced that if we’d had continue to eat this way for a month, we would have even gained a substantial amount of weight. #notcool. So our solution to getting around eating bad while traveling was this:
BREAKFAST: we snacked on fruit :: frutta, nuts, protein bars (being sure to find ones with clean labels), dark chocolate, tea and coffee. We did our shopping at a supermarket (I recommend Trader Joe’s) and we ate in our hotel or on the road when we were traveling. We spent $7-8 for two instead of $23-25 and we knew exactly what we were eating.
LUNCH: more snacks or leftovers :: avanzi from my cooking shows.
DINNER: we almost always went to a nice restaurant with high quality food (ATTENTION: we didn’t just choose a place based on how cute the decor it was but used online reviews specifically for the quality :: qualità). These places were usually quite expensive. A dinner for two with drinks ran from $110-140 (with taxes and tip). It seems like a lot, but if you do the math, we ended up spending the same amount per day as we would have for three mediocre meals eating out, but we ate better quality food and we felt better too.

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-4Now back in my kitchen :: cucina, I’m excited to be developing more recipes to give you more ideas on how to cook healthy and simple recipes that you can feel good about eating, like this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish. If you have any leftovers just toss them into a salad, add some beans, lentils or tuna for a main coarse or chop them up finely and add them to scrambled eggs.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger
 
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This recipe for roasted broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and ginger is great to eat as a side dish, tossed into a green salad, mixed with grains, lentils or tuna or cut up finely and mixed into a scrambled egg. It's a healthy dish that is quick to make and loaded with nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the broccoli, cauliflower, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, grated ginger, salt and black pepper until well coated. Evenly distribute the vegetables on the sheet and roast until tender and slightly browned; 20-30 minutes.

 

 

Scafata 

Scafata 

ScafataLast weekend I was invited to Umbria (a region in central Italy) along with six other wine, food, and travel bloggers, to participate in a three day educational tour. You can read about this incredible experience and get some travel tips :: consigli di viaggio from my previous post about Umbria. Now, let’s talk about a delicious traditional dish I tried called Scafata.  Oh my, if you haven’t tried this Italian stew with fava beans :: fave you are in for a treat!

ScafataFava beans, or broad beans as they are often called, are the oldest known beans. Like lentils, they are used in various European and Mediterranean dishes. Fava beans grow in a soft fuzzy pod :: baccello, but are much larger than peas. In France and America it is custom to peel the transparent skin off the bean, but here in Italy, we just shuck them from the pod and eat them raw, or cook them in various dishes.

ScafataFava beans are the main players in this dish. From here you can toss in a variety of seasonal vegetables. I’ve used a sweet Tropea onion, freshly shelled peas and a large bunch of Swiss chard :: bietole. Asparagus would work well, which I unfortunately didn’t have on hand.

ScafataScafata is good when eaten warm right after being cooked, but like many great Italian dishes, it becomes absolutely darn right mouthwatering when made a day or two ahead and eaten cold or heated up. The traditional recipe doesn’t call for cheese :: formaggio, but Mr. Italicano tried it with grated Parmesan as well as a spoonful of Burrata, which were also great variations.

Scafata
 
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"Scafata" is a traditional dish from Umbria, Italy that is loaded with vegetables and perfect for summertime.
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red or Tropea onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (400g) shelled fava beans (or frozen)
  • 2 cups (285g) shelled peas (or frozen)
  • 13.5 oz (400g) cherry or datterini tomatoes, without the skins*
  • 12.5 oz (350g) Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 handful basil or mint, chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, as needed
  • Grated parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese), as needed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Don't add salt to the boiling water as the peas and fava beans will toughen up. Salt the dish at the end of the recipe.
  2. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
  3. When the water is boiling, cook the fava beans for 2-3 minutes then drain them (reserving the hot water) and put them in the skillet with the garlic and onions. Add the tomatoes, swiss chard and half of a ladle of the hot water. Cover the skillet and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  4. Now that the stew is ready, bring the water reserved back to boil and cook the peas for 1-2 minutes; drain and add to the fava mixture. Add the basil or mint, salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add the parmesan cheese. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve warm o cold. This dish is best made a day or two in advance and eaten cold or reheated.
  5. *To easily remove the tomato skins, stick the tomatoes in the freezer over night and run them under lukewarm water to remove the skins; or, boil them for 1 minute and then run them under cold water and the skins will easily come off.

Here is another great recipe to try with fava beans: Avocado and Fava Bean Dip

Avocado-and-Fava-Bean-Dip

 

cindy swain NYC

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I'm in New York City right now, doing Cooking Show at Eataly Downtown, Williams-Sonoma Columbus Circle and Bloomingdale's 59th. All of these events are offerd by Smeg USA. Come join me or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up-to-date on my Cooking Shows and enjoy my new recipes delivered directly to your inbox!

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