Farro with Kale Pesto, Zucchini and Parmesan
Back in my single days, my friends and I would often play a festive game called “Dealbreakers.” It’s actually less of a game and more of a truth-telling exercise where each person throws out a personality trait, physical attribute, or behavior, and the others decide whether it’s something that they could live with in a prospective mate. If not? DEALBREAKER.
Realistic? No. Shallow and judgy? Maybe. Fun? Duh.
In hindsight, I had a truly ridiculous number of dealbreakers, but here’s the short list:
Works in finance
Thinks he’s always right
Organized sports fanatic
Avid golfer (especially one that wears visors and golf shirts when not on a golf course)
Likes jam bands
Wears tank tops
Has no rhythm
Excessive body hair
Fast food lover
Yes, I realize that the only dude without any of the aforementioned traits would be a Ryan Gosling-esque unicorn of a man, but I had standards, DAMMIT.
Then I met Logan.
Logan works at a hedge fund. He loses his patience rather easily and experiences extreme frustration/anger on the reg, especially when he thinks he’s right (which is always). His family lives in Colorado and Idaho, and he enjoys nothing more than outdoor activities, specifically hiking, skiing, and camping.
Logan is a mildly psychotic Eagles fan, and he lives to play golf. He owns more golf shirts than any other item of clothing (all of which are neatly folded and stacked in his meticulous closet), and he truly believes that he looks good in a visor. His greatest passion is Widespread Panic, a jam band that he has shamelessly followed around the country for the past 15 years. He often wears tank tops to their concerts, where he does a rhythmless form of dancing called “noodling” and sweats profusely, probably because his impressively thick chest hair causes him to overheat more quickly than most.
Logan loves Domino’s, Panda Express, and McDonald’s, and he practically has an excitement seizure whenever he sees a commercial for a new Taco Bell creation. Every night, he snores like a dying bear.
As you can see, Logan is the human embodiment of all my dealbreakers.
And I am madly in love with him.
(There are a lot of feelings coming, so you should probably just scroll to the recipe if you’re squeamish.)
The truth is, it’s kind of impossible not to love Logan. He’s the smartest, funniest, warmest person I’ve ever met, and the craziest thing is that I don’t love him in spite of the aforementioned “dealbreakers,” I love him because of them…
Thanks to Logan, I now know at least 3 things about finance and football. The fact that I too think I’m always right leads to some spirited debates (and keeps us both in check), and his neatness inspires me to prevent our apartment from becoming a hoarder’s hovel. My hiking and skiing skills have markedly improved. I sometimes go camping, and I like it.
While I hate golf and WSP, I admire Logan’s extreme dedication and loyalty to the things he loves, and I find his noodling strangely endearing. His chest hair is very soft and comforting to rest on, and I’ve had some of my best ideas while being kept awake by his death snore. Last but not least, if Logan didn’t have such ridiculous eating habits, The Dude Diet would not exist. He is my greatest muse, and I couldn’t be more proud to call him my roommate.
My point in sharing all of this with you today is three-fold:
1. It’s Valentine’s Week, and the usually dormant hearts and rainbows side of my personality is acting up. I’m incredibly grateful for Logan, and sometimes I just need to put that out into the universe. (He’s going to be so flattered when he gets around to reading this post on the subway in like 3 weeks!)
2. To suggest that you fabulous single peeps may want to let go of your pettier dealbreakers this weekend (/in general). Love sometimes comes in hairy unexpected packages.
3. I made some delicious Farro with Kale Pesto, Zucchini and Parmesan, which I fed to Logan last night. I’m sure “hides kale in my food” was probably one of his former dealbreakers (along with “shares all my secrets on the internet”), but he LOVED it. I think you might too.
A few quick things about this recipe. First, it couldn’t be easier. Boil the farro, shave a zucchini, throw all the pesto ingredients in a blender, and then toss the everything together with some chopped Marcona almonds and shaved Parmesan. The whole process takes all of 20 minutes, and it’s 100% idiot-proof.
Plus, this fresh, sexy, and nutrient-dense dish can be served room temperature or cold (make it ahead!), and it’s fabulously versatile. I like it as a light vegetarian meal (vegans simply omit the cheese), but it’s equally delightful as a side dish (this would kill at a Galentine’s celebration), and leftovers keep well for a couple days in the fridge. You’ll also have some extra kale pesto, which is excellent news, as you can use to dress up everything from eggs and roasted veggies to meat and fish. Boom.
Happy almost Valentine’s Day, friends. Love you, mean it.
Farro with Kale Pesto, Zucchini and Parmesan: (Serves 4-6)
1½ cups uncooked semi-pearled farro
2 small zucchini (or one medium zucchini)
Juice of ½ lemon
Fresh ground pepper
¼ cup Marcona almonds, chopped (You can obviously use regular or slice almonds if you prefer.)
Shaved Parmesan cheese for serving
For the Kale Pesto:
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bunch Lacinato kale, center ribs removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Preparing your Farro with Kale Pesto, Zucchini and Parmesan:
-Start by cooking the farro according to the package directions. (Usually 10-15 minutes in boiling salted water.) Strain and set aside.
-Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, shave your zucchini into thin ribbons.
-Place the zucchini in a small bowl and toss with the juice of ½ lemon, a good sprinkling of salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Briefly set aside.
-Moving on to the pesto! Start by toasting the pine nuts. Heat a pan (with no oil!) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pine nuts and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, for 1-2 minutes until browned. (Pay attention, peeps. I let mine get a little too brown…) Remove from the pan and let cool for a few minutes.
-Add the toasted pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor or blender along with the chopped kale, garlic, lemon juice and zest and Parmesan cheese (if using).
-Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until relatively smooth. Season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper.
-Place the farro in a mixing bowl and add ¾-1 cup of the kale pesto. (Just depends on how pesto-y you want things.)
-Stir to combine.
-At this point you have two options:
1. Add the zucchini and chopped Marcona almonds to the farro, toss everything together, and then top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Easy.
2. Assemble the dish in layers. (This is more for presentation purposes). Arrange half of the zucchini in an even layer on a serving plate/bowl/platter. Top with half of the farro, half the almonds and a little cheese. Top with another layer of zucchini, reserving a few pieces, and add the remaining farro. Top with the reserved zucchini, and sprinkle with the remaining almonds and some more Parmesan. It will look quite fetching!
Serve room temperature or cold and get your green on.
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