Farro with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino

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There’s a limit to how many stalks of limp, soggy, brown-green asparagus I can eat before I start to feel like one myself. And there’s really no reason to overcook green spring vegetables, when they have such a great crisp crunch that lots of them can eaten raw or just barely cooked.  Raw asparagus stalks might be a little too “raw” for most people, but when peeled into slivers, they are tender and absolutely delicious. The thin ribbons absorb the lemon vinaigrette beautifully in this salad, and continue to marinate as the salad sits.

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Similarly, shelled English peas have a great crunch and while you could make this salad with frozen peas (I would recommend defrosting, and blanching them for 30 seconds in boiling water first) what makes it especially good is the combination of different textures and fresh, bright flavor- the chewy farro, the crunchy peas and pistachios, the lemony asparagus ribbons, and the salty flakes of Pecorino. This is a recipe to celebrate Spring’s greatest hits, and the better your veggies are, the better the salad will be.

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This  is a great grain-and-vegetable-in-one side dish, but having now eaten for it a week as I’ve worked on the recipe, I can say it makes a pretty good dinner on its own, with a soft boiled egg on top.

Farro with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearled farro, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 stalks of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas
  • 2 tbs chopped Fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the farro with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until just tender.
  2. 2, Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus stalks into thin ribbons. (I found this is easiest if you lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board.)
  4. When the farro is cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the peas, asparagus and mint, and toss to combine. Let the salad cool completely, then add the Pecorino and pistachios, and mix well.
  5. Serve at room temperature.

Negroni Spritzers

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I will never turn down a Negroni. I love the combination of bitter Campari and sweet vermouth. I love the color. I love the little hint of citrus the orange rind gives the drink.  I  also have a bad habit of finishing whatever drink is in my hand in about ten minutes, which can become a problem when that drink- in this case the Negroni- is pure alcohol.

Having recently had five at a friend’s birthday, where they were “on tap,” I can tell you that there is such a thing as too many Negronis, and that number is definitely fewer than five.

These Negroni Spritzers are my compromise. Made with the cocktail’s traditional ingredients – gin, Campari and sweet vermouth in equal parts- they are toned down with a generous pour of soda and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. (Regular oranges would be fine, too.) The drinks still have that bitter and sweet Negroni bite, but are a lighter and more refreshing twist on the classic. And though I still might not recommend having five, I think you could get away with having at least two or three, hangover-free.

Negroni Spritzer

  • Servings: Makes 4 drinks
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup gin
  • ½ cup Campari
  • ½ cup sweet vermouth
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from 3-4 blood oranges)
  • 1 ½ cups club soda
  • thin slices of blood orange, for serving

Directions


Pour the gin, Campari, vermouth, orange juice, and club soda into a pitcher. Fill four tall glasses with ice and divide the drink mixture among them. Garnish with a slice of blood orange and serve.