Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Golden beets with beet greens, farro, guanciale, garden herbs and lemon

Here's a recipe for a salad I made using some ingredients I picked up from the farmers market and the community garden this weekend. The main ingredients for this salad are farro and golden beets. I like to use golden beets for a dish like this because they are a little less sweet, so they don't overpower the other ingredients, and they won't stain every other element of the dish red, so the presentation will be nicer. Farro has a nice, nutty flavor that goes well with the beets.

1 cup farro
2-3 medium golden beets with greens
1/4 cup diced guanciale
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup+1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp chives, minced
1 tsp mint, chopped
1 tsp oregano, chopped
1 tsp tarragon, chopped
1 tsp dill, chopped
salt, pepper

Srubs the beets clean. Make a foil envelope for the beets, and roast with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted them for 1 hour at 400F, and I thought they could have used at least another 15 minutes in the oven. While the beets are roasting, remove the thick stems from the beet greens and thoroughly rinse them. Bring about 2 cups of water or chicken or vegetable stock to a boil and add the farro. Let the farro simmer over medium heat for 25 minutes (longer if not semi-pearled). Blanch the beet greens in heavily salted water for about 1 minute. Remove, and immediately rinse with cold water or place in an ice bath. Next, saute the cubed guanciale (about 1 cm cubes) over medium heat to crisp up and render some of the fat. Once the fat has begun to render, and one smashed garlic clove to the pan. Remove the crisped guanciale, and add the beat greens. Saute the greens in the rendered fat until they are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, mustard, and a smashed garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper and remove the garlic cloves.

When the farro is done cooking, drain in a collander. When the beats are done (a knife should slide to the center with little resistance), peel and cut into 1/2 in dice. Combine all the ingredients while they are still warm so the farro and beets absorb more of the flavor from the vinaigretter. Chill or serve at room temperature. This can be made a few hours before serving.

If I make this again, I might try adding toasted almonds or feta to give the dish another dimension. A little bitterness from parsley would have been nice as well, but I was limited to the herbs that were growing in the garden around the corner and, sadly, no one planted parsley this year. I also might dial back the dill a little. Dill has a pretty assertive flavor that can dominate the other herbs in the dish.

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