It is good to be home! It has been a fun wild 2 weeks but it’s great to be back. I’m not going to lie, it felt a bit weird not being able to share my weekly recipes and stories over the last 14 days but shoddy internet won the battle and halted me from blogging. On the flip side though, I think it was refreshing to disconnect from the web a bit. Although I still shared a few things via Instagram and snapchat @sweetpoppyseed (my 2 fav social medias!)
So back to the last 2 weeks, it all started with a winter weekend with the family at the cabin. A weekend filled with snow, good food, lots of baby giggles and a fun game. Yes I know! I, Valerie, played a game and liked it! Gasp! Curses, it’s called. It is a good one, trust me. I got to see the hubs revive a dying hamster using his tiny T-rex arms while talking like a leprechaun. So yea it was worth playing.
I have to say there is something so incredibly serene and almost meditative about being outside in the snow. The world just seems so quiet and still. We took 2 incredible snow shoe walks along an icy river and enjoyed the rest of our weekend curled up near the fireplace.
After our winter weekend, we changed gears, unpacked, repacked and jetted off to sunny Florida. Let me first say one thing that I am so proud of. The hubs and I packed for the 3 of us (two adults and one baby) in 2 carry-ons for a 12 day trip! This is huge for us! In my eyes the more efficient we are at packing, the easier it is to travel and the more seamless everything goes.
Off to Bradenton Florida we went! Our time there was spent enjoying family, eating fish/seafood and ice cream, playing tennis, going to the beach and running. Oh and wait, crawling! Yes! It’s true, baby Poppy was semi-scooting backwards before we left and in a matter of days, she was able to fully crawl forward. And fast too! The hubs and I agree, our life is now over. It’s cool we are dealing with it.
As far as family trips go, our FL trip was ideal! And I am excited to share our favorite spots and activities. Stay tuned as I will be posting a full recap of our trip in my Travel section in the coming week.
Ok food time. We are back home. Home sweet home. And after going to the store today to stock up on produce for our very sad sad kitchen, I realized it is asparagus season!
Green, crisp and in my opinion, very elegant asparagus is a wonderfully easy and versatile vegetable. We often indulge in these little green sticks as a side dish, prepared simply: blanched and sautéed with olive oil, garlic and salt. But being back from vacation makes me crave some of my favorite grains that I have not had in a while. Farro being one of them!
If you have never heard of farro, please let me introduce you to this ancient Italian gem. This wheat grain is old, dating back to the Roman Empire and widely used in Italian cooking. It is less known in the states but deserves a bit more notoriety in my opinion. Nutrition wise it’s a star! Packed with protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium and iron, it is up there with the quinoas of the world. Plus my favorite part about farro, aside from the fun name, is the nutty texture and flavor. Think of it as brown rice’s thicker, plump, brother that is complex and toothier. For me farro is perfect in salads with its light nutty taste but bold and standalone consistency.
Delicate flavorful asparagus mixed with hearty farro, a handful of spinach and sassy feta cheese married together make a simple and satisfying spring time salad. One that I can enjoy warm or cold, while I chase a crawling baby around the house. And despite the snow covering our car and yard on our first day back home, I am still going to enjoy this fresh springy salad as I impatiently await sunny warm days to come!
It is crazy how a few sunny days in paradise will spoil you.
Spring Asparagus Feta Farro Salad
Serving size 3 lunch portions; 4 small sides. This is a great make-ahead salad ideal for lunch, picnics or as a hearty side.
Notes: *I buy my farro at Trader Joes since it is easy inexpensive and always available. However your local grocery store should carry it in the grain or healthy food area next to the rice and quinoa. Cook according to the package instructions.
**Blanching thick asparagus. Trim asparagus by cutting off the tough ends and chop the rest into 1 inch pieces. Boil a medium pot of water and add asparagus. Cook on high for 2 minutes until crisp tender. Drain and immediately transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water for 1 minute.
- 1 cup of farro, cooked according to package instructions*
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1-1.5 cups)**
- 2 large cloves garlic or 3 small cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of red chili flakes
- 1 handful of spinach, roughly chopped by hand
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
- Juice half a lemon
Cook farro according to package. Mine was 1 cup farro, 2 cups water for about 20 minutes, but again check the instructions on the package.
While farro cooks, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped asparagus. If they are thick asparagus, blanch first**(see notes) and then add to skillet. If they are thin asparagus (about the width of a pencil), add directly to skillet skipping the blanching step. Cook asparagus for 1 minute then add garlic, a pinch of dried red pepper (I used about a ¼ teaspoon for a spicy punch) and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes until garlic starts getting a little golden and fragrant. Turn heat down to medium-low.
Drain farro once cooked. Try the farro and it will be a little chewy with a good bite to it. Add farro to the asparagus garlic skillet and add handful of chopped spinach. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Mix and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
Take off the heat. Finish by mixing in crumbled feta.
Enjoy warm or cold.