We had some gorgeous weather over Memorial Day Weekend here on the east coast, which inspired me to finally pull out the barbecue. Now, I don’t always want burgers and (vegan) sausages when grilling, sometimes I feel like a lighter meal.
There is nothing more satisfying than char grilled, seasonal vegetables like peppers, portobello mushrooms, zucchini and corn with their array of colors, textures and flavors. You can use these vegetables in so many ways, and I always grill up an extra amount so I can add into salads, sandwiches, tacos, burritos and wraps the following days. If you’re a burger fan, you can also use these vegetables as toppings, which I’ve done before and is delicious.
My dog Tofu just had knee surgery last week and has to stay confined for 8 weeks, so I’ve not had much of a chance to go shopping. I looked in my cabinets to see what I had and came across a jar of farro and was reminded of how much I love the nutty flavor and texture of this grain.
Farro is an ancient whole grain derived from wheat, and has a chewy texture once cooked. It’s wonderful in everything from breakfast porridge to risottos, added into soups and of course, salads. Although not gluten free, it is an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Farro has a wide range of antioxidants and is protein rich as well (similar to quinoa). If you haven’t tried this grain and are not gluten intolerant, I urge you to try it out!
You can play around with dressings for this salad, but I wanted to stay on a Mediterranean theme and chose a zesty orange-sherry vinegar-Dijon mustard-shallot dressing that was to die for. I made a big jar of it and enjoying that as well on some leafy salads this week for lunch.
For those of you who are bored with vegetables or typically aren’t fond of them – try barbecuing them. It brings out a deep, sweet flavor you simply can’t get it through any other cooking methods, plus it’s fun to cook them on the bbq with friends and family! I added a can of chickpeas to the salad for some extra protein and crunch, but you can omit that or use any other beans or even lentils if you’d like instead.
I hope you will try out my recipe – I paired my salad with a variety of different rose wines which I will be blogging about in the next coming weeks as part of my summer theme. I hope you will check back for them, because if you know me, I think a plant-based meal gets elevated by a nice glass of wine. Happy grilling!
GRILLED VEGETABLE SALAD WITH FARRO
Makes 6-8 servings
1 cup (2.5 dl) dry farro (cook according to package direction)
good extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper to taste
1 x 15 oz (425g) can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
2 red bell peppers, whole
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned
1 bunch asparagus, bottom tips trimmed
1 corn on the cob, husks removed
1 small box cherry tomatoes, halved
10-12 kalamata olives, pitted
To grill vegetables:
I like to marinade my portobello mushrooms in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a little salt and pepper (and a crushed garlic clove) about 30 minutes before I put it on the grill for extra flavor. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and peppers on all the vegetables and place them on the barbecue. Grill until charred on both/all sides. Set aside to cool. Place the bell peppers in a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will help them steam and removing the outer skins easier. Peel off outer skin, clean /take out the core and clean of seeds, then cut into thin strips.
Chuck the corn, slice the portobello mushrooms, asparagus and zucchini into bite sized pieces.
In a large salad bowl, add the cooked farro and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add all the grilled vegetables and optional chickpeas, carefully fold everything in.
CITRUSY SHALLOT, DIJON MUSTARD AND SHERRY VINAIGRETTE
2 small shallots, peeled and minced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
Juice from 1 orange and 1 tsp orange zest
juice from 1 small lemon
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
salt, pepper to taste
Add all the ingredients in a glass jar, shake vigorously to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, add all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl, whisk together and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.