Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: A bright, fresh grain salad for long, summer days.
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We're big fans of Bklyn Larder here at Food52. Owned and operated by the masterminds behind franny's (known for its chewy, blistered pizzas and vegetable-whispering chefs), Bklyn Larder is a small shop in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn that stocks a dizzying array of everything you want to buy: the best local cheeses and chocolates, the freshest spices, imported pastas and hand-rolled couscous, delicious house-made sweets like olive oil cake and dark chocolate shortbread cookies, and arguably the best selection of prepared foods in the Tri-state area.
Once or twice a month, I treat myself and stop in on my way to work for a buttermilk biscuit and coffee (breakfast), and a selection of a few small items to take with me for lunch. Everything is excellent: their tuna salad is beyond reproach, their soups are impossibly fresh (no limp greens or soggy beans here) and they have a spicy feta spread that may just be better than butter.
But the thing I crave the most is an unassuming little grain salad. To make it, they start with a base of not one but two grains: quinoa and farro (yes, technically that's one grain and one seed). To this winning combo, they add some chopped pickled fennel made in-house and a healthy dose of fresh dill. The result is an explosion of crunchy, nutty, fragrant and sour. I got so addicted to the stuff that I knew I had to start making it at home -- I couldn't justify multiple trips to Bklyn Larder each week, but I had to have this salad.
Plus, I had reason to believe Clara might like it too; she loves most tart things, and she's recently revealed herself to be a fellow farro freak. So I quick-pickled some fennel using this recipe from Amanda as a jumping off point, cooked up a small pot of quinoa and a small pot of farro and stirred it all together with a slick of olive oil, some of the pickling liquid and lots of dill.
I ate the salad for lunch four days in a row. Clara was skeptical at first, but she came around once she got past its somewhat drab appearance and got a taste.
Although I haven't tried it yet, I imagine it would be even better with some of the pickled ramps sitting in my fridge.
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed but with stems trimmed, quartered and sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch planks 1 hot dried chili (optional) 2 sprigs dill 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar 3/4 cups water
For the Salad:
1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled farro 1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup finely (1/4-inch) chopped pickled fennel 1 tablespoon fennel pickling liquid Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/4 cup roughly chopped dill leaves (or half dill, half fennel fronds if you saved them)
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).