As a child growing up in northern Minnesota, I figured that the "first day of spring" note that appeared on my calendar at the end of March was some sort of mistake on the part of the printer. The end of March in Minnesota typically featured snowbanks, and the only flowers in sight were the tissue-paper versions that we made in art class. As an adult, I can appreciate the idea that the vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring season, but it has no relation to my life when hauling cupcakes through an April blizzard.
But this year, I have been eagerly anticipating the official first day of spring. Maybe it's because the 2013-2014 winter has been the coldest Twin Cities winter in the past 35 years. It may also have something to do with the week of 40 degree temperatures at the beginning of the month that practically made the snowbanks melt before my eyes or the beginning of daylight saving time. I'm not the only one: someone from our firm's IT department (not typically a whimsical bunch) posted a spring countdown clock on our internal website, complete with pictures of tulips. While the three inches of snow that fell last night dashed any far-fetched hopes of blooming tulips, a recipe called "Spring Farro" seemed like the perfect way to celebrate the season. Granted, my leek traveled to the grocery store from far away warmer climes and my peas came from the freezer, but it still tasted like spring, with a hearty serving of whole grain to boot. Farro is similar in texture to wheat berries, but with a milder, nuttier flavor and a much shorter cooking time, making this an ideal weeknight dinner.
Adapted from The Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen
- 1 1/2 cups dry farro
- 1 leek, about 1 inch in diameter, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3.5-ounce package feta cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add farro and cook at a low boil over medium heat until farro is chewy-tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice leek and separate into rings. Combine the leek, olive oil, and garlic in a medium bowl.
Place the frozen peas in a colander. Drain the farro in the colander and shake to remove any excess water. Add the farro and peas to the bowl with the leeks and sprinkle with salt. Mix gently, stirring from the bottom to evenly incorporate the leeks, olive oil, and garlic into the farro. Gently stir in the feta cheese, pepper, and lemon juice.