The words of two of my favorite cookbook authors, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi provided me with the courage to write for one of the country’s most successful food blogs: 100 Days of Real Food. In the Introduction of their famous cookbook, Jerusalem, Ottolenghi and Tamimi describe the development of our food images as something that “lie well beyond our consciousness: we just cook and eat, relying on our impulses for what feels right, looks beautiful, and tastes delicious to us.”
At first, I feared that my approach to cooking drastically differed from the parameters set forth at 100 Days of Real Food. To address my hesitations, I educated myself through tools found on their website and learned what qualifies as real food. This is how I discovered that my style of cooking from scratch can unintentionally produce recipes that are considered “real food approved.” Some of my favorite creations, like Coconut Quinoa with Basil and Baby Spinach, Moroccan Spiced Carrot and Yogurt Dip, Roasted Fennel and Tomato Soup, and Thai Peanut Dip were among the 20 recipes (out of 32 that I have created thus far!) that I could have shared on her site.
Ultimately, I posted one of my favorite recipes: Chickpea and Farro Stew. It is a humble, yet savory dish layered with flavors like freshly squeezed orange juice, cumin, and garlic. The recipe utilizes the overnight soaking method of preparing dried legumes (e.g., chickpeas) and then stews them with petite, diced tomatoes, onions, and low-sodium chicken broth. As you’ll find below, the stew is a beautiful dish finished with cooked farro and fresh cilantro to enjoy hot off the stove or reheated days later.
I couldn’t be prouder to have written on the 100 Days of Real Food blog! And, what an amazing opportunity to learn how healthy food can be…even if it happens by chance! Xoxo, E.
- 1 c Chickpeas, dried
- 6 c Water
- 1 t Baking Soda
- 1 32oz Container Chicken Broth (preferably Reduced Sodium)
- 1 28oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
- 1½ c Onion (preferably Sweet Vidalia Onion)
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1½ t Salt
- ¾ t Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 t Cumin
- 2 c Pearled (or Semi-Pearled) Farro (I love the Nature's Earthy Choice brand)
- ½ c Freshly Squeeze Orange Juice (approximately the juice of 1 large orange)
- ¼ c Freshly Chopped Cilantro, packed
- 1 T Honey
- 1 T Unsalted Butter
- The night before cooking the stew, place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with the water. Transfer to the refrigerator and leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the chickpeas. Heat a large saute pan (for which you have a tightly fitted lid) over medium heat for one minute. Transfer the drained chickpeas and the baking soda to the pan. Shake the pan to distribute the baking soda among the chickpeas and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper and cumin to the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pan and reduce the heat to love and let simmer for 45 minutes.
- Place the farro in a fine mesh colander, rinse well and drain. Add it to the pan, cover and cook an additional 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
- To finish the stew, stir in the freshly squeeze orange juice, cilantro, honey, and butter. Let rest, uncovered for 10 minutes; serve warm.