Greek Grain Salad

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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This week I’m excited to share my recipe for Greek Grain Salad- an easy, crowd-pleasing side for all your summer P’s (parties, picnics and potlucks!)  Big grain salads are one of my go-tos for cooking for groups, and this one in particular makes great use of summer vegetables – Amber Waves grows peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, parsley and even onions and garlic.

This salad has all the flavors and satisfying crunch of a classic Greek salad, with farro instead of lettuce. Farro is my favorite grain – it’s deliciously nutty and chewy and only takes a half hour to cook, or 10 minutes if you can find the pearled kind. In this case, farro not only makes the salad a more substantial side for a party but also makes it a better dish to prepare in advance, and a better one to bring to the beach!  Speaking of the beach, it might just be time for a dip…

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Greek Grain Salad


Ingredients

  • 1½ cups farro
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into ½-inch wide strips
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic (1 large clove)
  • 1 large English cucumber, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • ¾ cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, ½-inch diced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preaheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the farro with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the farro is just cooked. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the hot farro and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the red pepper slices on a half sheet pan and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set the peppers aside to cool slightly.

Add the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, roasted peppers, parsley and olives to the bowl with the farro. Stir until combined, then gently fold in the feta. Serve at room temperature.


Greek Avocado & Herb Dip

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When I have friends over for dinner, I very often have a big crudité platter out on the table when everyone arrives. It’s an easy hors d’ouevre that I can throw together quickly, and one that works for almost any crowd, season and occasion. So often crudités are boring and uninspired: round plastic trays, limp celery, gloopy white dip… you get the idea. But by taking a little extra time to make a delicious homemade dip, and choosing fresh and colorful veggies, you can turn something that’s usually underwhelming into an edible work of art.

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First, let’s talk about this Greek Avocado & Herb Dip. Made with Greek yogurt, feta, and avocado, it’s thick and creamy but much lighter than sour cream-based dips. And with lots of lemon juice and fresh green herbs, it’s  bright and refreshing and perfect for spring. The best part is, it’s really easy to make. All you do is combine the ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix, and blend until everything is smooth and the prettiest shade of green!

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The lemon juice in the dip keeps the avocado from turning brown for a surprisingly long time- even 24 hours later, it’s as green and fresh as it was on day one. This recipe makes a big batch, so it’s perfect for a party, but you can easily halve it. Or, you could make the full recipe and repurpose the leftover dip the next day. Thin it with a little extra water and you’ll have a creamy green goddess salad dressing, or spread it on bread with some chicken breast and roasted red peppers for a seriously good sandwich. It’s even great as a condiment and makes a simple piece of grilled chicken or fish much more exciting.

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But do give this a try with crudités first. My personal year-round faves are radishes, English cucumbers, and endive leaves, which make the perfect little dipping spoons. As spring vegetables come into season, sugar snap peas or thin stalks of fresh asparagus would be great, too. Use your own favorite vegetables, pick the freshest ones you can find, and don’t be surprised when they disappear in no time!

Greek Avocado & Herb Dip

  • Servings: About 1 Quart
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Ingredients

  • 2 small, ripe Hass avocados
  • 2 (7-oz.) containers Fage Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ pound feta cheese, diced

Directions

  1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells. Roughly chop the avocado.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the feta in the bowl of a food processor (or powerful blender such as Vitamix) and pulse until combined. Add the feta and 2 tablespoons water and process until completely smooth.  If the dip seems too thick (this will depend on the size of your avocados) add an additional tablespoon or two of water and pulse again until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately with crudités or crackers, or refrigerate in a sealed container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against of the surface of the dip to prevent browning, for up to 24 hours.