Thursday, September 2, 2010

Farro Tricolore: How To Impress Your Foodgeeky Friends In Just One Picnic. Plus a Giveaway!

As if organizing a potluck/picnic for a bunch of food-obsessed parents and their toddlers wasn't enough to think about, I also had the mind boggling task of coming up with what the heck to bring to this shindig.

When fellow food blogging mommy Reservation For Three contacted me to see if I'd like to co-host our first ever GastroTots potluck picnic, I was thrilled at the idea of finally being able to hang out with the parents I frequently chat with on Twitter about food, restaurants, potty training and tantrums. But being that our guests were going to be some serious food nerds, I knew that a box of Albertsons cupcakes and Tostitos chips and salsa just wouldn't cut it. (Umm, not that I would normally bring that to a potluck anyway, right?)

First and foremost, I would need to bring something that tastes good.

It would also have to be something that didn't need to be reheated as we'd be meeting in a park.

And visually appealing.

And somewhat healthy as our kids would also be partaking in this feast.

And something that's somewhat easy to make since time is always so precious as a busy working mom.

Fortunately for me, my Gourmet Today cookbook came to the rescue with its recipe for Farro Tricolore--a colorful salad of farro, arugula, radicchio, Belgian endive, tomatoes and pancetta that fit all the above criteria. It's also a recipe that will be sure to make anyone look like they know what they're talking about in front of all of their foodgeeky friends. Farro? It means you buy your food at places other than Vons. And then if you bought locally farmed organic vegetables for this salad, you might totally be able to bond over farmers markets and green grocers! High Five!

By doing a little prep work of soaking the farro and cutting the vegetables up the night before, it's a fairly quick and easy dish to make. The contrasting flavors and textures in this salad are just insane: it's got all kinds of delicious al dente, crispy, wilted, bitter, salty, sweet, acidic, nutty and peppery craziness going on.

Farro Tricolore (adapted from Gourmet Today)

1 cup farro (available at Italian markets or specialty grocers like Whole Foods)
4-6 cups arugula, stems discarded, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head radicchio, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large Belgian endive, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta, diced or sliced and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 basket of cherry or grape tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

First, soak the farro in water for about 8 hours. Go do other stuff--sleep, chop veggies, watch a Real Housewives marathon, whatever.

Bring the soaked farro and about 6 cups of salted water to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until al dente, about 25 minutes. It will look like the photo above when cooked. Drain and set aside.

Toss the arugula, radicchio and endive together in a large bowl. Note: the first time I ever made this salad, I neglected to remove the stems from the arugula and to tear or cut the arugula, radicchio and endive into smaller pieces. The salad still turned out fine, but I noticed that the arugula stems and bigger leaf sizes made it a less cohesive salad so I made sure I went with the smaller pieces the next time. Yes, it's more of a pain in the ass, especially with the arugula, but so worth it.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crispy. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels, leaving the pancetta fat in the skillet. You'll need that fat for later, so do not dump it or you'll be sorry!

Add remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil into the skillet and add the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes get soft and the skin gets kind of wrinkly but still stays on.

Add the balsamic vinegar scraping up any of those delicious smoky browned bits on the bottom of the pan and allowing the vinegar to reduce and thicken slightly.

Add farro and pancetta to the bowl of arugula, radicchio and endive. Pour the warm balsamic pancetta-fat tomato dressing over the salad and toss to coat. The greens should wilt a little bit.

The result is simply wonderful. And you will definitely not lose any cred with all your foodgeeky friends.

But wait, there's more!

Normally, goody bags at kiddie get togethers mean fruit roll ups, snack packs, temporary tattoos, stickers and minature bubble bottles, but thanks to Reservation For Three, her husband Max of Morning Glory Confections and some very generous businesses, our goody bags were a tad more grown up this time. We got:

-A box of Morning Glory Confections' amazing Fleur de Sel and Peanut artisan brittle.
-A coupon good for 15% off your bill at Cacao Mexicatessen
-A token good for one iced or hot 12 oz latte at Cacao Mexicatessen
-A coupon good for a complimentary klein of Belgian fries w/ any food purchase at Wurtskuche
-An $8 gift card to Colorado Wine Co.
-A coupon good for one free scoop at Pazzo Gelato.
-A coupon good for 50% off your meal at Spitz.
-A $10 gift card to Cafe de Leche.
-A delicious and adorable individually boxed cupcake from Delilah's Bakery.

I was so excited about my swag that I want to share a goody bag with one lucky reader! (minus the cupcake...sorry, it's hard to ship, plus I already ate it.)

Just leave a comment with either your favorite childhood food OR your child's (or childrens') favorite food by 11:59pm Wednesday 9/8/10. I'll draw a random winner on Thursday 9/9/10. Be sure to leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win.

Good luck and thanks for reading!


H. C. said...

Gawd, I have to air my dirty food laundry out in the open for this? Oh what the hell.

My favorite childhood recipe is my mom's semi-homemade (before Sandra Lee got her drunken cooch all over that term) "greasy spaghetti" -- starts with a bottle or two of Prego sauce that she proceeds to add a whole mess of freshly sauteed veggies (garlic, mushroom, onion) and browned ground beef to.

And a spice/herb mixture more secret than KFC, 'cause I still haven't quite replicated it myself. I think my mom did that on purpose so I'd visit her every now and then (and beg!)

Banana Wonder said...

Your salad looks great! I must make!
My fav childhood food was mustard rye bread sandwiches. Weird!

oddlyme said...

My favorite childhood food (and my favorite adult food, I just can't eat it as often) -- french fries. And as my dad was great about taking us to many kinds of places, by age 10 I had decided that the best french fries were at chinese restaurants.

Work with me here.

These were americanized chinese places that did have good food - but also knew they would always have folks coming in who NOT might want chinese food. So they always had a burger and fries on the kids menu.

Yes, they were frozen fries. But they were frozen fries cooked in the same hot oil as the egg rolls, shrimp, chicken, and other savories. So no wonder they tasted better- they were FLAVORED!

I eat "authentic" chinese food now. But I tell you, on a tough day, if you could just give me my dad again by my side, a shirley temple and some of those fries - it would all be okay.

weezermonkey said...

My mommy's spring rolls.

Then. Now. Forever.

stuffycheaks said...

wish i had a kid so i could join the party and leave with one of those goddie bags!! you guys are such hip moms

Cee said...

that salad looks delish. I'm definitely going to attempt this since I'm running out of ideas for my daughter's first tastes. her favorite to eat right now is spaghetti in which she gets it all over her and her face.

Eddie Lin said...

Bummed I missed it! Then again, maybe you're happy I didn't bring anything to the potluck. Haha.

Abigail Sarah said...

I love reading your blog! When I was a kid I just couldn't get enought rice crispy treats and macaroni and cheese. Not much seems to change....

sophia said...

Man, I wish I could shoot like you. Photography, I mean. You make even tiny tomatoes look so BIG in flavor and personality.

Childhood favorite was Shin ramen (the korea spicy cup noodles). Sad, but true. I jazzed it up with a slice of American cheese on top, and sprinkles of nori.

Anonymous said...

In this house, we love Mexican - and taquitos are a family fave.

bagnatic said...

what an awesome mommy group!

my favorite childhood food is my mommy's banh cuon (meat wrapped in a thin sheet of steamed rice flour aka rice wrap). i still crack the biggest smile when my mom makes it.

Anonymous said...

my favorite childhood food: my mom's kimchi jigae w/pork belly. yum!
My email:

Angelyn said...

I loved (and still like) chicken mcnuggets. They're so bad but taste so good.

wan said...

so sad that 1. we missed the picnic and 2. i'm too late for the giveaway!

swag bags...i'm totally kicking myself now.

Daily Gluttony said...


I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm a technically challenged dufus who couldn't figure out how to embed the random number generator as an static image into this post. So you'll just have to trust that I actually randomly drew commenter #5, stuffycheaks, as the winner of this giveaway. Congrats to stuffycheaks and thank you to everyone else who commented. I loved reading about all of your favorite childhood foods!

LisaDang said...

omg, your photos ROCK. love your blog!!

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