Monday, May 7, 2012

School Lunches: Attempt #2

As mentioned in a previous post, I am constantly searching for tasty, satisfying, portable lunches to bring to class with me.  Lately, I've been so busy that the old standby, PB & J (which in my case is really Justin's Maple Almond Butter and jam on Ezekiel  bread), has had to suffice, but I get pretty sick of it after a few days, so it's nice to mix it up and eat real food every now and then. 

Recently I made a recipe using arugula from my Farm Fresh To You box. Once again, I was faced with the challenge of making something from a veggie that I'm not too familiar with, and I wound up using it to make something that I actually LOVE and will most definitely make again (in fact, I've already made it twice!)!  The recipe is Farro and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Arugula Walnut Pesto, and I found it on  Besides disovering a new use for arugula, I was also introduced to farro, which is an Italian whole grain with a nice nutty flavor, and slightly crunchy texture.  I found a site explaining how to cook it (How to cook farro), and while I opted to soak it over night, it's apparently not absolutely necessary if you're short on time.  This recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked farro, which is about 1 cup of the uncooked grain.  Here's the whole recipe, along with a couple photos of how mine turned out:

Farro and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Arugula Walnut Pesto

For the pesto:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (I put raw walnuts under the broiler for a couple minutes to toast them)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
For the salad:
2 cups cooked farro
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (I used fresh mozzarella "pearls")
  1. With the exception of the olive oil combine all the pesto ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse it a few times to form a paste.
  2. With the processor running drizzle in a 1/4 cup of oil and blend. If it seems wet enough do not add more oil but if it seems dry add a teaspoon or two.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the farro with half the pesto and mix it to combine. Add the tomatoes, pepper flakes, lemon juice, chives, and mozzarella. Toss the salad to combine and taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary or add more pesto if you think it needs it. Serve.
Packed and ready to be eaten for lunch!
This one I made without tomatoes (because I'm  not  a huge fan of the slimy suckers).

I absolutely LOVED this recipe, and I savored every bite of it when I was happily chowing down on my lunch during class.  My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it right now (note to self: make this again next week!).  For me, this recipe is perfect: it has "healthy" elements to it (the whole grains from the farro, the walnuts, plus the veggies from the arugula), without tasting healthy.  Instead, it tastes rich and flavorful, and every bite is like a party in my mouth! 

I'm realizing lately that my tastes are becoming more and more discerning, and I think it has a lot to do with being an intuitive eater.  When you eat mindfully, and savor every bite, your standards are higher, and you start to insist upon fresh, quality ingredients, instead of just eating whatever's in front of you.  When I make something that's just "okay" (which happens, especially when I'm trying a new recipe), I'm disappointed, because I believe that eating should be a pleasurable experience, and something that provides more than simply physical nourishment. 

That being said, as much as I'd love for every eating experience to be "wow!" instead of "okay", the reality is that sometimes we need to eat for practical reasons, and seeing as I'm not a chef, nor am I rich enough to throw out every food that doesn't totally turn me on, sometimes I have to settle for "okay" eating experiences.  However, I refuse to accept this as my constant reality, as some "healthy" eaters seem to do, and I will forever strive for eating experiences that tick all my boxes: something that is pleasurable to eat (check!), that makes me feel satisfied after eating it (check!), and that I know is nourishing my body with all the nutrients it needs to feel its best in the long run (and check!).