birthday dinner: farro and a fresh spring salad
Birthdays are my favorite. They hold such joy and evoke beautiful things like gifts, love notes and good food. Growing up, our family always made our birthdays into large productions. We were conditioned at an early age to expect great things on our special day. Although I feel bad for those responsible for the birthday plans in my adult life (because it’s truly hard to live up to the expected hype) I would not trade those celebrations for anything. My mother however, has resigned to the quieter variations. I’m not sure if that’s due to the fact that it’s more fun for her to dote on us, or if it’s that she is trying to divert attention from her age. She doesn’t want all of her friends to find out that she has been 29 for the last 24 years. They’d be jealous.
This year, Mom’s request was a steak dinner with just the girls. We honored her request and hosted a small dinner, just the four of us, on my sister’s deck in the middle of the forest. It was wonderfully simple and I hope, the perfect way to show our love for her.
This dish is one you should commit to memory. The method is simple, and allows for customization, as most things do. This particular preparation has a great bite, feels substantial and has a little kick to it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cup farro
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you’d like it spicier)
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock, or enough to just cover
- 2 cups torn curly kale
- Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet until almost smoking. Sauté the onions with a little salt until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and stir in to combine. Pour in the farro and spread out evenly around the pan. Cook until the farro is toasted and turning a deeper shade of brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 more minutes.
- Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the wine is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice just until the farro is covered. Add the kale, pushing it into the mixture with a spoon to submerge it. Bring to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as desired.