This meal falls on the eve of a very special occasion–four out of the six diners at my table are competing in a triathlon tomorrow (myself not included). The main goal of this meal is to get as many vitamins, nutrients, carbohydrates and fiber into them as possible.
The centerpiece of this nutritious meal is farro (a.k.a. triticum), which is a great source of nutrients, fiber, carbohydrates, and even some protein. To the farro, I’m adding some blanched, chopped kale–freshy harvested. Kale is, of course, king of nutrients and fiber in the vegetable kingdom, and there is a farm nearby that grows it every fall. To complement the kale and farro, are leeks–fresh from my neighbor Beppi’s garden.
When I begin to receive leeks from Beppi, it’s a sure sign that fall is upon us–he makes the most divine leek and potato soup (I’ll publish the recipe someday).
The main course tonight is simple grilled paillards of chicken–thinly pounded breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh parsley and drizzled with good olive oil.
This is the best protein punch I can give my guests with the least extraneous ingredients or fat (not that I’m normally concerned with such things). Along with the chicken is an abundant amount of freshly picked and boiled broccoli, simply dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and salt.
Farro with Kale and Leek
2 c farro
3 c chicken broth
1 bunch leeks, white parts only
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmigiano for sprinkling
Trim leeks of their roots and slice in half lengthwise. Under running water, separate the layers of the leeks and rinse any loose soil between the layers, while keeping the leek largely intact. Cut crosswise into half-moon slices approximately 1/2″ thick.
Strip kale off the coarse stems and slice into ribbons approximately 1/2″ wide.
Drop into well-salted boiling water and blanch for about 5 minutes. Drain in strainer.
Place farro in a small pot with chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat, covered for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. The grains will become bloated and increase in bulk, but will remain nutty and sturdy. Stir occasionally and add water if the chicken broth evaporates. Can be cooked a half-hour in advance and let rest, covered, until ready to combine with kale and leeks.
After kale has drained well, place on cutting board and chop vigorously in both directions for a coarse but even chop.
In a broad skillet on medium heat, saute leeks in half the oil for about 2 minutes. Add chopped kale, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and continue sauteing for a minute.
Add cooked farro (and any remaining broth) to skillet with kale and leeks. Drizzle with the remainder of the oil, toss and serve.
Sprinkle with grated parmigiano (only for the protein, of course) at the table.