I read a fascinating article in the WSJ this weekend about the “mind-gut” connection and how influential certain foods and spices are in the health of our mind and our general well being .  The article also included a recipe which I have posted, although I adapted it a bit to cater to my personal taste.  I loved the nutty farro in the recipe and the cashew cream was absolutely delicious to which I added just a bit of sesame oil and extra lemon.  In  addition, I sautéed  some mushrooms with  the Swiss chard for the vegetable portion and I roasted  diced zucchini, squash and eggplant with olive oil and thyme in the oven,   I also added added some sliced radishes.  The pickled onions with the ginger and tumeric were just delicious.  This recipe could be easily adaptable to a variety of healthy and seasonal vegetables of your choice.

Recipe Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

ACTIVE TIME 1 hour 30 minutes SERVES 4

For the farro:

  • 1 cup whole-grain farro, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the cashew cream:

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (toasted or untoasted)
  • 4 cups water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Kosher salt

For the red onion and ginger pickles:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced ⅛-inch thick
  • 2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup wildflower or orange-blossom honey

For assembly:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into thick ribbons
  • Kosher salt
  • Sherry vinegar, or substitute lemon juice, to taste
  • 2 medium zucchinis or summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or basil
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Salt
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ avocado, cut into chunks
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickled radishes

1. Make the farro: in a pressure cooker or multicooker, combine farro, water, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and salt. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour. Release steam and drain off excess liquid. Set aside and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream: In a medium saucepan, combine cashews and 2 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain a rolling simmer and cook until water evaporates and cashews expand slightly and soften, about 30 minutes. Drain and add remaining water. Repeat process, cooking until water is reduced by half and nuts are barely covered. Once cooked, carefully transfer nuts and remaining water to a blender. Blend on high speed until thick and smooth. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste. Let cool completely in refrigerator, at least 20 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing onto surface of cashew cream.

3. Prepare the red onion and ginger pickles: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add chile flakes and let steep 2 minutes. Add turmeric, onions, ginger and salt. Cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 2-4 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and honey, stirring to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

4. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and season with salt. Stir to combine, cover and remove from heat. Let greens steam for 5 minutes. Season with vinegar or lemon juice to taste.

5. In a medium skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and thyme or basil, tossing to combine. Sprinkle lemon zest over pan. Season with salt to taste.

6. Assemble bowl: In a small bowl, combine tomatoes with salt to taste and a drizzle of olive oil, and toss to combine. Season avocado pieces with salt to taste. In a large bowl, season farro with 3 tablespoons pickling liquid. Take 2-3 tablespoons of cashew cream on the back of a large spoon and spread generously onto one half of each of four bowls. Divide farro among th bowls. Top bowls with pickles, chard, zucchini, tomatoes, avocado pieces and fermented foods, if using. Each diner can mix together everything in his or her bowl before eating.