Dinner in 35 minutes: chicken fried farro
This comes from Spike Mendelsohn, who’s among the celebrity chef contributors to a television cooking show called “Recipe Rehab” that can be seen via YouTube. The show’s premise is that family favorite dishes can be reworked to be more healthful.
Farro stands in quite nicely for rice in this one-skillet dish, a comfort-food rendition that trades the peas, carrots and onions of Americanized Chinese fried rice for ginger-garlic-scallion aromatics and the mildness of zucchini and yellow squash. The ancient grain cooks while you chop, which makes this a weeknight option even for busy cooks. Mendelsohn doesn’t season the chicken, but I recommend it.
If you can find plain, cooked farro on your grocer’s salad bar, you’ll be able to knock minutes off the prep time. Cooked wheat berries may be substituted, although they are considerably chewier.
If you’re planning to eat this as leftovers, you might want to blanch/shock the snow peas separately before slicing them and adding them to the mix in the wok or skillet. That way, they’ll stay a happier shade of green.
Serve with a first course of miso soup. Adapted from “Recipe Rehab: 80 Delicious Recipes That Slash the Fat, not the Flavor,” from the editors of Everyday Health with JoAnn Cianciulli and Maureen Namkoong (HarperWave, 2013). Serves four.
Chicken fried farro
1 cup dried semi-pearled farro
1-inch piece fresh ginger root
3 cloves garlic
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
8 ounces fresh snow peas
10 to 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Bring a large saucepan of water (at least 4 cups) to a boil over high heat. Stir in a generous pinch of salt and the farro; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prep the following ingredients. It’s okay to make two piles as you work: the aromatics (ginger, garlic, scallions) and the vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, snow peas). Peel the ginger, then mince. Mince the garlic. Trim the scallions, then finely chop the white and light-green parts. Cut the zucchini and squash into small cubes. Slice the snow peas on the diagonal.
Trim off and discard any visible fat from the chicken, then cut the chicken into bite-size chunks. Season lightly with pepper.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.
Drain the farro in a colander, then rinse it with cool water, leaving it to dry in the colander.
Heat a wok or large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat. Add chicken and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce; stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes, until it is just cooked through and has picked up a little color. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil; once it is hot, add the ginger, garlic and scallions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add vegetables. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until barely tender, then use a spatula to move the contents of the wok or skillet to one side. Pour in the egg on the cleared side; scramble until barely set, then immediately return the chicken plus the cooked farro to the wok or skillet. Stir-fry to incorporate and heat through.
Add remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, and stir-fry to season evenly. Divide among individual bowls; serve immediately.
Nutrition: 380 calories, 28 g protein, 43 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar.