I had heard a lot about the cooking classes at The Chopping Block, but I just never seemed to get around to signing up for a class. Somehow I stumbled upon a class called 100% Nutritionist Approved Healthy Holiday Eats taught by renowned food and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner. If you haven’t heard of her check her out. Just a few fun facts about her. She is the nutritionist for the Chicago Cubs and the author of The Flexitarian Diet, a fabulous book about her philosophy to healthy eating. Her philosophy is basically this: pro-plant not anti-meat. She believes that wholesome, nourishing foods are magic for your body. For more about her visit her website, she has tons of fabulous recipes, tips, and articles she has written for major magazines.
Fall Farro Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
**Farro is an ancient relative of wheat. They look like popcorn kernels and are similar in texture to brown rice but they are round and have a nuttier flavor. Adding a grain to your salad makes it heartier and gives your dish a more fall/winter feel.
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup uncooked farro, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons pitted and quartered kalamata olives
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
- 2 cups arugala
- 1/2 orange, zested – about 1/2 teaspoon (Tip: use a cheese grater to zest to get chunkier pieces)
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice, from zested orange above
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- S&P to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt and farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Add the olives, fennel, arugula and orange zest to the cooled farro and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until combine. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Let the salad stand for at least 10-15 minutes at room temperature & serve.
NOTE: To intensify flavors, let salad marinate in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
One more thing. If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in learning to cook, I highly suggest you check out the Chopping Block. I had such a wonderful experience there, it is a very nice establishment and the staff were so gracious and helpful. I thought it was a little pricey at first but after leaving I can honestly say it was worth every penny. It’s a great place for a fun, interactive date or a night out with girls. If nothing else, go solo – that’s what I did and I met some really cool people. Definitely Dishin’ approved!