Guest Post by Krista A. Parr
Farro is an ancient strain of wheat with a much lower gluten content and a much higher protein content than common wheat. It’s also packed with magnesium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and fiber; all important elements of a balanced fertility diet. With a mild nutty flavor and a chewy but firm texture, farro really works well in salads. Better than quinoa, in my opinion, because it won’t become soggy after marinating in the fridge with veggies and dressing after a few days. While there are many nutrients in this salad that are supportive of male and female fertility, its best quality may be that it sets you up for healthy eating success. What I mean by that is: once you have this salad in your fridge (it makes a very large batch!) it is a quick, healthy, nutrient-dense meal or snack that is ready to eat with no further preparation. It’s also versatile: bring to a potluck or picnic, serve as a side dish with whatever is going on the BBQ, or, pack it for lunch on top of a bed of lettuce and an avocado on the side. You may wonder why the recipe asks you to melt butter to grill the veggies in rather than simply drizzling on olive oil. Butter is a saturated fat which is not easily damaged by high heat cooking (ie. BBQ). Damaged fats behave like free radicals in your body, causing damage to your tissues. As a mono-unsaturated fat, olive oil is more delicate than butter and easily damaged by heat, light, and air. When you consume olive oil raw, it rewards you with numerous health benefits, but when you heat it (especially high heat like BBQ grilling), olive oil becomes a damaged, dangerous fat. If you don’t want to use butter, coconut oil is another great option for high-heat cooking.
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small-medium eggplant, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large handful green beans, chopped in half
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves only), minced
Butter, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for grilling the above ingredients
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 large leaves of kale, chopped finely
1 large carrot, chopped into matchsticks
1⁄2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
2 cups (approx) crumbled feta cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk
1 cup uncooked farro
Salt & pepper for salad
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1/3 cup No.3 (dark) organic Maple Syrup
Cook the farro first by rinsing it well in a sieve under cold water, then placing in a pot with 2 cups water and a tiny pat of butter. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, lid on, for 25-45 minutes (until all the water is absorbed). Stir after 25 minutes to check on it. If the farro is done to your liking (nice, chewy texture) but there is still water in the pot, simply strain off the excess liquid.
Prepare the BBQ to medium-high heat. Assemble the zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, green beans, garlic, rosemary, and salt & pepper in a large bowl.
Melt about 3-4 Tablespoons butter by placing it in a pyrex measuring cup, then inside a saucepan with 2 inches of water over medium heat. Bring water to a gentle simmer. When butter is melted, mix in 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, then drizzle over the bowl of vegetables and mix well with clean hands, massaging the liquid into the eggplant in particular.
Place in a grilling basket or wrap up in aluminum foil. If using the aluminum foil method, divide vegetables into 2 packets. Place on the BBQ and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring a couple times if using the grilling basket.
While the veggies are grilling and the farro is cooking, prepare the salad dressing by mixing the ingredients in a small bowl.
Once veggies and farro have cooled a bit, mix them together with the green onions, basil, kale, carrots, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, and salt & fresh ground pepper to taste. Drizzle half of the salad dressing and mix well, adding more dressing if necessary. Serve immediately, or allow salad to marinate an hour or more in the fridge before serving.
Krista A. Parr is a Vancouver Registered Holistic Nutritionist and founder of Root to Fruit Nutrition, specializing in fertility and women’s health. www.RootToFruitNutrition.ca