farro salad with preserved lemon, rhubarb and yogurt

Grandpa would have been 100 this past fourth of July. He died just a few weeks short of his 99th birthday last summer.

We celebrated in the same way we’ve done my entire life, fireworks and a table full of food meant for grazing on all day long. The only difference was there was no birthday cake. Ivy and I did bring a no-bake cheesecake tart decorated with berries to look like an American flag. Grandma would have loved it.

I also brought this salad. It’s hearty and simple and yet each bite is fragrant, floral and fresh. Nestled in a large ceramic bowl with creamy unsweetened yogurt as the base this salad sat on the table next to two Snicker Salads. One my son, Baron, made because he feared we would run out of this classic. The other my aunt made because she always does. It’s snickers, green apples, pudding, and cool whip. Also, it’s important that you know that it is not a dessert. It is most definitely served right along side the hot dogs and hamburgers.

Food is so funny in that way. Because of tradition I have an affinity towards store bought birthday cake, Lay’s potato chips and a salad of pudding and whipped topping. I crave those tastes and the flood of memories that come with them. I also crave the bright pungent hit of preserved lemon, set alongside sweet dates and tart raw rhubarb. I eat both this farro salad and snickers salad with deep joy and no shame.

One is perhaps better for my body and the others, well on a day when you wished nothing more than to be celebrating your grandparents with them there, the other foods were for my heart. And sometimes that is okay too.

Farro Salad with Preserved Lemon, Rhubarb and Yogurt

Yield 6 - 8 servings

This salad was inspired by one eaten and enjoyed at Vif here in Seattle. 

I feel in love with the tart crunch of raw rhubarb. It is perfectly suited with the sweetness from the dates. Large leaves of mint may seem a daunting bite but I assure you they are everything in this salad. 

Ingredients

8 ounces Italian pearled farro, cooked until tender in salted water (3 cups cooked)

4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 slender rhubarb stalk, thinly sliced

1/3 cup pitted, chopped Medjool dates

1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup mint leaves

2 cups arugula

Flake salt

1 pint whole milk Greek yogurt

Instructions

In a large bowl combine the farro, scallions, rhubarb, dates, preserved lemon, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir until well combine.

This can stay refrigerated for up to three days.

Just before serving toss with the mint and arugula. Taste and finish with flake salt.

Smear the yogurt on the base of the serving bowl or platter then top with the salad.

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Grilled Potatoes with Creme Fraiche and Black Sesame Salt

Finally, we’re here. Summer. The anticipation for these long and lazy days has been building and even more intense this year due to the prolonged school year thanks to snow days. But we’re here and we are doing it right. Lazy mornings with coffee and a good book on the deck, assembled dinners of cherries, cheese and crackers on the lawn, many dreamy plans for camping trips, hikes and an epic road trip that will take us through at least five states. And of course lots of cooking over the fire.

This simple dish felt right to share this week as we celebrate our nation with gatherings, bbq’s and fireworks. Many of those gatherings often include some version of a potato salad and this one, while a far cry from the classic, is my current favorite.

The ingredient list is short, which is how I like my summer cooking, but the flavor is rich, intense and complex. I give credit to the smokey charred flavor that imparts the potatoes when they are cooked over flame.

The potatoes are boiled just until tender and if you’d like to really wow your guests, boil the potatoes in a salty brine of water and vinegar. Once boiled and cooled the potatoes are smashed which exposes the soft set interior and gives the fire more opportunity for char.

Finally the potatoes are tossed in creme fraiche then capped with toasted black sesame seeds and flake salt. For a version that is truly over the top I suggest adding the salty punch of salmon roe. Or a hearty shower of minced chives is also nice.

 

Happy summer, friends. What do those long and lingering days look like for you all? And if you have road trip suggestions and destinations for Idaho, Montana, Utah and New Mexico do please let us know!

 

Grilled Potatoes with Creme Fraiche and Black Sesame Salt

Add 1 cup vinegar to the water you boil the potatoes in for a bright bite. 

For the smashing of the potatoes I find it best to place the warm potatoes on a sheet tray then top with another sheet tray and press down firmly. Or if I'm being completely honest with you sometimes I step on the sheet tray (which I then wash very carefully). On the camp site it's easy to smash the potatoes between two heavy cast iron pans.

Ingredients

1 lbs small new potatoes, boiled in heavily salted water until just tender, then smashed to roughly 1/2 inch thickness

 ⅓ cup Creme fraiche

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

2 teaspoons Maldon (or similar) Flake salt 

Instructions

Grill the smashed potatoes over hot fire or on a grill until charred on both sides, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. 

While warm stir in the creme fraiche and top with black sesame seeds and flake salt.

If not serving straight away, refrigerate. Although it's best eaten straight away while warm or just room temperature.

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