Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes with a Scandinavian Variation

These are the traditional Scalloped Potatoes that so many of us grew up with. The modern and mindful twist here would be to leave the skin on as that is where so much of the nutrition resides. I like using red potatoes instead of baking potatoes because I think they have a superior texture and don't just turn to mush. But, if you prefer baking potatoes, by all means use them. If you are interested in the calories, here they are (minus the optional cheese).

Scalloped Potatoes


2 T butter
2 T flour
(if you are a salter, you will want to add a bit here)
1/8 t pepper
1/4 cup onion, grated or very finely chopped
2 C milk, whole is best, but you can use 2%. Do not use skim
6 cups red potatoes, skin on and sliced to 1/4 inch pieces (You really cannot easily measure cups for slices of potatoes. There will be a lot of air space in the cup, so make the cups very generous and you will be close enough.)
Cheddar cheese, grated, is optional and quite tasty

Scandinavian Variation ingredients:

Use 1-3 leeks instead of onion - only the white and light green part, thinly sliced, sautéed in 1 T olive oil for about five minutes.
Add 1 cup or more of grated Jarlsberg cheese (I rather like the words "or more" here)
1 t dried rosemary in addition to the pepper.
More options here include adding gently sautéed cut asparagus or fresh peas to the white sauce.

Yes, I know the cheese is Norwegian. But my Grandmother came from Sweden, so I compromised on the name of the variation - don't want to upset my Grandmother. :D


Always measure and prep all your ingredients first. It's the mindful way. That way you do not suddenly realize you forgot the onion when you are at the point where you must constantly stir the sauce... not that I have done such a thing... *cough cough*


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a medium pot, make a white sauce (Béchamel). Melt the butter over low heat, blend in the flour, pepper, and salt if using. Stir constantly until the mix bubbles and the flour incorporates with the butter.  Add onion and then slowly add the milk mixing well as you go to avoid floury lumps. Stir and cook over medium until it nearly boils and thickens. If you are using cheddar cheese, add it to the sauce and stir til it melts. For a sauce so thick you can stand a spoon in it, increase the butter and flour to 3 T ea but keep the milk to 2 cups.

Spray a casserole dish with Pam or lightly coat with butter. Lay half of the potatoes in the casserole. Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes, lifting them with a fork so the sauce covers them all. BTW - leave some room at the top - a good 1/2 inch or so. Otherwise you had best put a sheet of foil under the dish to catch the boil over drips... been there.

Scandinavian Style with grilled chicken and grilled pineapple
Repeat with the remaining potatoes and sauce.

Cover and bake for about an hour and a half. The dish is done when the potatoes are soft - use a fork to check. Allow to sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes to "set" before serving. Very excellent reheated.

Red Potatoes a la Nicholson with Lemon Chive Butter

When I cook with fats, I make a point of using mainly olive oil, canola oil if the cooking temperature is higher than olive oil can take, and butter. When I cook with butter, it is because the flavors of the dish demand it. Butter is often best melted on the top of cooked foods where it can mingle comfortably with the other flavors. How much butter do you use when you smash your potatoes? Likely quite a bit more than if you prepare them like this. Potatoes are such a good for you food when eaten with the skin. If you are interested in calories, here they are.

This very simple dish is spot on use of butter.

Red Potatoes with Lemon Chive Butter


16 small red "new" potatoes, rinsed, halved, and steamed until soft
2 T butter
2 T chives, chopped
2 t lemon juice, fresh squeezed

What to do:

While the potatoes are steaming, prep the other three ingredients.

Remove the strainer from the pot and drain out the water. Return the potatoes to the still hot pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss until the butter is melted and the potatoes are well coated.

You may want to season it here, but I don't usually. The butter has sufficient salt. A little fresh cracked black pepper would be good. Bits of garlic too. But I wouldn't get too fancy with this.

Keep it simple, fast, and fresh. That's one of the things that makes this dish incredibly mindful. There is no war of flavors arguing for attention. Just the perfect harmony of a food quartet. No surprises. This recipe is dedicated to Jack.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stuffed and Grilled Banana Peppers

Who says you have to stuff a boring green bell pepper?

The pic to the right is just one of my quite prolific banana pepper plants. Obviously something had to be done. They were absolutely huge and looked quite roomy inside, so....

I decided to make Stuffed and Grilled Banana Peppers and serve them with my grilled fajitas!

I ran the nutrition for you at Calorie Count (assuming you are not using the optional items this should be quite accurate).

Some Assembly Required, Please Double Check your Ingredients to Avoid Mad Dashes to the Store:

1 1/2 cups freshly cooked (1/2 cup uncooked) Brown Basmati Rice*
1/2 organic onion, finely chopped
1 t extra virgin olive oil
3 compari tomatoes, finely diced
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t ground cumin
2 t ground garlic
3 T fresh parsley, chopped fine
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
4 Big Monster Fat Banana Peppers picked fresh that day
toothpicks (soak in a small bowl of water)

Completely and Totally Optional Ideas that are in no Way to Be Considered All Inclusive:

with optional meaty bacon added
Option 1: Thick slices of applewood bacon to wrap around the peppers before grilling. Now, bacon is not really necessary at all. I used bacon when I made this batch though. If you have carnivores over for dinner they will be impressed with bacon.

If you want this to stay mindful or are simply not a carnivore, then do not add the bacon.

If not using bacon, take care to make sure the pepper is stuffed only to the point where the slits (see directions below) can be closed with the toothpicks...or instead of making a T slit, cut off only the top only, deseed, stuff, and attach the top with toothpicks to prevent the insides from leaking all over the grill. Then, simply rub a bit of olive oil around the pepper before grilling. The pretty charred pepper bits are very tasty. Next time I make it, I'll make it with no bacon and post pics so you can see the difference... I still have several dozen peppers growing on the plants and will have to do something with them!

Option 2: Instead of tomatoes and cayenne, try adding a bit of salsa or Chipotle Tabasco Sauce. I like to add the Chipotle Tabasco in addition to the tomatoes and cayenne.

Option 3: *I made a larger amount of rice (increasing the seasonings of course) and served what did not go inside the peppers as a side dish. Delicious.

How to Stuff a Pepper and the Geometry of an Incising Said Pepper Prior to the Stuffery:

check out the T slits
While the rice is cooking, measure and prep the rest of the ingredients.  Caramelize the onion in the olive oil. To prep the peppers, do not cut all the way through - instead carefully slice a T shape opening only on one side. The horizontal cut should be up near the stem area and the vertical should extend from the center of that down as far as you want to go on the pepper. Gently open the T as if it were a buttoned shirt and use a small spoon to remove any seeds.

What to do Next along with a Few Comments on the Optional Nature of Bacon and Other Elements Worth Noting:

When the rice is done, mix it together with every ingredient except the peppers. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

a stuffed pepper
Carefully spoon the rice into the cavity of each pepper...ok, give up on the careful part and just use your fingers and smush it in. I put a spoonful in the wider top and then used my fingers to push it to the small end of the pepper...a most messy and rather fun thing to do.

Secure each pepper with several toothpicks so the stuffing does not fall out onto the coals - or wrap with bacon and secure with two toothpicks.

You can make the peppers to this point earlier in the day and put them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and grill later - just pull them out of the fridge about a half an hour or so before grilling so they have time to come to room temperature.

Grill over hot coals, turning frequently until they are lovely and brown and well heated. The longer you cook, the softer the pepper will get, so don't stop too soon - approximately 12 minutes or so.
I decided to bacon wrap them!

Post Script with Declamatory Sentences and Pronouncements of Various Sorts:

If you love the flavor of this dish but don't want to grill or cannot grill because your grill is still covered with snow, saute the peppers with the onions and add them to the rice, omit the cheese (or use it for garnish). and enjoy the flavors as a terrific side dish!

Fresh from your very own organic garden peppers is the tastiest way to go, but if you do not have a garden, I strongly encourage you to buy Certified Organic produce instead of conventional.

For me, organic is worth the price for three reasons - 1) there are a number of studies that show that the nutrition of organic produce is generally higher - and never lower - than conventional (likely because organic farmers are more concerned about the product instead of a "value added" price that extends the profit margin and shelf life); 2) I don't have to eat non-mindful chemicals with my food, and 3) the sustainability issue matters. It's important to me that what I buy reflects my respect for our planet which I value more than a dollar here or there. I'd rather save money in other areas of my life so I can support on good sustainable produce..

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mama's Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are one of those simple recipes that many of us have grown up with. What the peppers were stuffed with varied depending on where you are from. They might be filled with rice, meat, grains meat, veggies, etc. Below is a typical Italian American version of Stuffed Bell Peppers created by my husband's Aunt - Mama D - and modified a bit by me. I've done the nutrition facts for you at Calorie Count.

What to assemble in advance of the creation of great deliciousness:
major league deliciousness

8 medium bell peppers - Mama D used green peppers, but you can make them with any of the other colors as you prefer.
1 pound extra lean ground beef - preferably grass fed organic beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 t pepper
1 t oregano
1 handful fresh basil, rinse and torn (or 1 t dried basil)
4 slices day old or stale bread (preferably a nice Italian bread), torn into pieces, moistened with water and gently squeezed
2 organic free range eggs
2 cups (plus if you like) marinara (your favorite from a jar or homemade)

Optional But Worthy of Consideration:

Mama D would add salt, I don't. If you are used to salt, you may want to add some good sea salt.

Several dashes of Tabasco Sauce or hot red pepper flakes are great in place salt as they serves the same function of accenting the seasonings. Yes, there's some sodium in the Tabasco, but far less than you would use with even just a few turns of the grinder. If you are super sensitive to salt, use the hot red pepper flakes - start with a pinch or two depending on how much you enjoy spicy flavors.

Try adding about 1 cup cooked farro to the meat in place of the bread.

If you want to reduce the calories, sub in a cup (or more) of chopped sauteed mushrooms for some of the ground beef. I want to thank a friend of mine at Calorie Count, Marydomingue, for this wonderfully mindful idea!

How to Finish the Entire Dish and Fill your Home with Wonderful Aromas:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Brown the ground beef and drain the grease. Stir in the garlic, parsley, pepper, oregano, and basil and saute another minute. Add about half of the marinara to the ground beef.

Slice of the top of the rinsed peppers and remove the seeds.

Combine the meat mixture, bread, and eggs in a large bowl.

Mama D's favorite kind of bell pepper
Stand the peppers in a greased or non-stick sprayed large baking dish.

Spoon the meat mix into the peppers.

Top each pepper with the remaining sauce (allow to dribble down the side) and bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are tender. You can add some extra sauce to the dish around the base of the peppers if you like, but not too much as some will exude from the peppers.

For a jaunty appearance, you can put the "hats" back on top of each pepper. Kids think it's fun to remove the food's hat before eating.


As these are being served, take a moment to think about the family food memories you hold most dear. Then inhale the wonderful aroma and dig in. Enjoy each and every mindful bite.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos for Health and Happiness

Ok, so maybe the health part is a stretch, but the happiness part is spot on.

If you use fat free cream cheese instead of the regular type you can reduce the fat significantly and then the nutrition is really not at all bad and far better than a bag of Cheetos. Jalapenos are actually very good source of vitamin A and a few other things which makes this is a most mindful treat.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.

What to assemble:

10 large jalapenos, see directions below for prep
1 (12 oz) package cream cheese, brought to room temperature so it is soft (the spreadable version is fine)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 T sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped into very small bits
1 T cilantro, chopped very fine (optional, but tasty and yes, you can use dried)
8 strips thick applewood smoked bacon
a number of wooden toothpicks (at least 10-12) soaked in water
Coals, lighter fluid, and a grill

Before messing with the jalapenos, mix the cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Then just let the bowl sit on the counter so it stays soft. It will take about a good heaping tablespoon for each jalapeno. If yours peppers are very large, you can always buy a larger package of cream cheese and increase the other ingredients a bit. Most recipes are flexible in this way, so play with it.

How to prep the jalapenos:

It's best not to cut the peppers totally in half as it only makes them more difficult to skewer with the toothpicks and they don't look as pretty. Less of the filling squirts out onto the grill during cookery if you leave the stem part on - if you lose a stem or two just cover that part with more bacon.

I made two slits that made a T shape only on the "top" of the jalapeno - do not cut all the way through. The horizontal top of the T went across the pepper just under the stem cap. Then the vertical line of the T went from the center of the horizontal cut all the way down to the end of the pepper. You can see how that looks in the picture above.

Gently pull apart the cut as if you were opening a shirt. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and consign to the compost bin.

Once all the jalapenos are ready, stuff them all with the cream cheese mixture. This is a very messy job and rather fun.

Remove the toothpicks from the water. Gently wrap each jalapeno in bacon - make sure to cover the T shaped cut (you can always add a bit more bacon and another toothpick if necessary). Secure the bacon with the soaked toothpicks.

You can prepare them to this point and refrigerate them until it is time to grill. Let them set on the counter at least a half an hour or more if you refrigerate them so the inside is not too cool as the outside will cook quickly.

Time to grill!:

Grill the jalapenos over hot coals turning frequently until the bacon is well charred. How long will depend on the thickness and meatiness of your bacon and the heat of your coals. Ours took about 12 minutes.

Do get good bacon. If you need to, cut off some of the fat. Fortunately, when bacon is grilled, the fat just drips off and mostly all that remains surrounding the jalapeno is the meaty part.

These are best served on small plates with a knife and fork unless your peppers were smallish - then you can just treat them as finger food and bite them off near the stem. Mine were a good four inches long not counting the stems and that would be rather much to just eat like a shrimp.

Enjoy these savory spicy treats as mindfully as possible with good friends, family, and a nice glass of a hearty red Zinfandel - Brazen makes a good one that is moderately priced and a perfect fit with this dish.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Egg, Turmeric, and a Tortilla

Those are the critical ingredients. All the others are optional or interchangeable or totally dependent upon where your whimsy takes you. I'm going to give you the basic idea for use in a small tortilla. Your choice of tortilla may change the nutrition which I've set for a small whole wheat tortilla.

What to assemble and prepare in advance of beginning the cookery:

2 t extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, preferably habanero infused.

1/4 cup onion, chopped - more or less depending on how much you love onions. I like sweet onions here, but you may be a yellow or white onion person. I don't think red ones would work, but they might if they are your fave.

1/8 t turmeric - fresh fresh fresh. I never try to buy it in the little tin anymore due to one very unfortunate experience. Go to a store that has bulk herbs and spices. Then you can then see if it is a pretty bright yellow with a rich aroma or if it is an unfortunate mottled brown with a rancid smell. Many people that think they don't like turmeric, have only had it from the little tins and it is not good. At least that's why I thought I didn't like it. Also, it is a whole lot cheaper to buy your spices in bulk, so if you haven't tried that do give it a whirl. 

1 egg of quality* from happy hens that get to trot about and are fed good whole food and not given medication to counter the fact that they are inhumanely raised in dirty confines. Crack it into a bowl and whisk a bit with a fork.

1 tomato, chopped - buy a good tomato please. They are worth the price. The Compari tomatoes that are starting to appear in stores everywhere are very good.

1 jalapeno, de-seeded and sliced or diced as you like.

1 tortilla - use any whole grain tortilla you prefer. I like whole wheat, but I also like the Artisan whole grain corn and flax tortillas. Very tasty. Experiment with several types until you find a favorite. Sometimes you just have to have the real deal with white flour and lard, but just make sure you must have it and then enjoy the heck out of it as mindfully as you can. If you are lucky and live near a store that makes tortillas, get some fresh ones!


use salsa instead of the onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Just spoon on as much as you like. Spinach is awesome in this, add about half a cup of fresh spinach to the pan after the onion softens and before you add the egg. A dose of that great Chipotle Tabasco sauce adds a lot of depth to the flavor and it goes well with the turmeric - as does just about any other pungent seasoning.

Easy Peasy Cookery:

Heat the oil in a small non stick skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers a bit, add the onion and saute for a few minutes. You can saute just til they are soft, or go until they begin to brown a bit.

Add the turmeric and stir a minute releasing the gorgeous aroma.

Add the beaten egg and stir until the egg is cooked to your liking. Some of you like your scrambled eggs well done, others not so well done. Making your own choice instead of just following directions exactly is as mindful as it gets.

Warm the tortilla just a little if possible (small toaster oven set on warm or microwave for 15 seconds or so is fine). Spread the egg mixture down the center of the tortilla from one end to the other. Top with the tomato and jalapeno. Fold and enjoy.

This is a very fast to make even on a work day breakfast. If your tortilla is large, double the recipe - this will keep even the most hungry of you well satisfied until lunch. Add the spinach to ramp up the nutrition levels and to add yet another veggie to the start of your day.

Look for quality eggs at a local farm or farmers market. Or you may get real lucky and find some in your local health food store. Do avoid eggs from egg conglomerates as the poor chickens there lead terrible lives and nobody wants to contribute to that. Be mindful of your egg choices.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Panko Buttermilk Pork Chops

So the dinner with the high temperature cooked panko encrusted chicken went so well, I decided to apply the same idea to pork. Only, I did not mallet the whathaveyou out of them to make them slender like the chicken, so I decided to experiment with the temperature. Flattened chicken would cooked to perfection at 500 degrees F. I cooked these pork chops at 475.

Panko Buttermilk Pork Chops
nutrition facts

What to assemble before you start because it all happens quite fast indeed:

I used three pork chops (each about the size of 1/2 of a butterfly chop
1 pint buttermilk
1 T Sriracha Sauce
1 zip lock bag
1 1/2 cups Panko (you can get plain or seasoned as you prefer)
1/4 t fresh cracked black pepper
1 t dried parsley
1 t paprika
2 t garlic powder
I do not salt but I am used to very low or no salt, you may need some salt
1/2 cup fresh ground Parmesan

9 x 12 baking pan lined with foil
Non stick spray


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F (yup, I decided)

As soon as I got home from the store, I took the pork chops out of the package and placed them in the zip lock bag with the buttermilk and Sriracha Sauce  If you are cooking dinner within a half hour, leave the bag on the counter, otherwise refrigerate it and then take the bag out of the fridge 45 minutes prior to baking. Room temperature meat will cook faster. This high heat method needs the meat to cook up fast so it finishes throughout and yet remains tender and juicy.

Mix up the Panko, seasonings, and Parmesan in a medium sized bowl.

Pull the pork chops out of the bag one at a time and gently shake - don't try to get all the buttermilk off just the excess. Then coat each chop thoroughly with the Panko mixture. Press the Panko mixture firmly into the meat. If you run out of Panko stuff, mix up some more. If you have extra you can press it in on the top or pitch as you prefer.

Lay them in the foil lined pan (don't forget to spray with the non-stick stuff first).

Here's what they looked like before going into the oven. I smashed on almost every bit of the Panko mix.

Pop the pan into the preheated oven. They should be done in 15-20 minutes depending the thickness of the chops. The Panko will be well browned, bordering on but not achieving an unhealthy charring.

Today's pork should not be cooked to the point of well done. It should still be faintly pink when removed from the oven. An internal temperature of 145-150 is fine. Check the chubbiest chop with an instant read thermometer. Mine were fat little fellows and took about 25 minutes. The pork chops are not improved with a higher internal temperature and will turn out dry in spite of the best efforts of the buttermilk.

Tent with foil for 10 minutes after they are removed from the oven. This will allow the juices to spread throughout and enhance the lovely texture.

Tonight, I served them with microwaved new potatoes and frozen cut green beans, layered with thick cut applewood smoked bacon which was sliced into nice delicious chunks.

Serve, and accept applause as mindfully as possible.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simply Spinach Frittata

Sometimes it's fun to eat breakfast for dinner. My Mom, much to my great pleasure, often made scrambled eggs and pancakes and sausage for dinner. While that still sounds good to me, I eat a little differently now. Even my breakfast is filled with veggies. I've detailed the nutrition given the recipe as it is and set at a dinner portion, but do see the notes below for ways to lower the calories and ramp up the nutrition to suit the way you may eat.

Simply Spinach Frittata

The stuff to assemble:

1 9x13 pan sprayed with non-stick cookery spray
1 large skillet
2 T olive oil, divided use
1/2 of a large sweet onion chopped
16 oz (or more if you like) fresh spinach, torn in half
12 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork (my favorite humane egg in a store comes from Country Hen, but you may be even luckier and have a local farm source - buy from them, it is worth every penny.)
1 pound Jarlsberg, shredded
8 oz Parmesan, shredded
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

What you need to do:

Always do your prep before starting the actual cookery. In a dish like this, stuff happens so fast at first, and if you aren't ready, you will be more likely to miss ingredients or make a humongous unmindful mess.

Once you have done the prep heat 1 T olive oil in the skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onions and saute until they are nicely browned and caramelized. In order for the browning to happen, you have to let them sit a bit and not spend the entire time stirring. If you do that, they will cook to the point where they look a bit more translucent, but they will take a few hundred years to brown. So, stir them when you add them to get the olive oil distributed well and let them sit a couple minutes, stir, let them sit, etc.

Remove the onions to a plate or bowl to cool.

Add the second tablespoon of olive to the skillet and saute the spinach until it is nicely wilted. If you've never sauteed spinach before, trust me on this all that spinach will reduce dramatically within a few minutes. Suspend a fine mesh colander over your sink and dump the spinach in there. After it cools a bit, press the spinach with a wooden spoon squishing out much of the liquid. No need to get obsessive about squishing it completely dry, just get the bulk of it out or your frittata will not set well.

In a large bowl mix the beaten eggs, Jarlsberg, Parmesan, and fresh cracked black pepper. The mixture will be a bit thick. Add the onions and spinach and stir until the spinach is nicely distributed throughout.

If you haven't already sprayed the pan with non-stick spray, go ahead and do it now. Then tip in the egg spinach mixture and spread it out a bit until it is fairly even in height.

Pop into the oven and bake about 35 minutes. The whole thing will puff up a little bit and the top will brown prettily. To make sure it is done, insert a clean dry knife in the middle, if it comes out clean, it's done. If eggy stuff is on it cook a few more minutes. Tent for 10 minutes under aluminum foil, and serve.

Flexibility is incredibly mindful:

All ingredients can be adjusted to the proportions you need. All ingredients (except egg) can be replaced with food you prefer. You may not be a Jarlsberg person, so use sharp cheddar or your favorite whatever cheese. If you like feta, use that instead of Parmesan or use both Parmesan and feta. If you want less cheese, cut the quantity with no worries as to how it will turn out. If you LOVE spinach, you can easily dump in about 24 ounces. Other things to consider adding: sweet red pepper, sausage - crumbled cooked breakfast sausage or hot Italian sausage would work wonderfully, jalapenos, sauteed summer squash, banana peppers, use kale instead of spinach or use a mixture of both. Well, you get the idea.

We make this for dinner and then on the following day I love to cut a small square just the right size to sit between two halves of a whole wheat English muffin. Cut the square in half horizontally and put one piece on each of the muffin halves. Toast in the toaster oven, put the sandwich back together and enjoy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peace Soup with Farro, White Beans, and Spinach

Each ingredient in this soup deserved to be in the title declaring world peace, but I am not an academic and like my titles short and sweet. Yes, the basil and roasted garlic could easily have graced the title, as nothing is more peaceful than those two coexisting in the same pot. Of course, the tomatoes were a critical element bridging the flavors of basil and garlic and transforming the duo into a glorious aria of deliciousness. Yes, it took each and every one of the ingredients in this dish working together in harmony to create the peace that fell gently around everyone at the kitchen table tonight.

May the entire world one day sit down to a shared meal of peace.

Peace Soup with Farro, White Beans, and Spinach
What you need to assemble:

1/2 cup farro
1 1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
2 heads garlic, roasted and peeled
2 T olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 t garlic powder
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 (15 oz) cans organic Great Northern Beans or 1 pound of dried beans picked over, soaked, and rinsed per package directions
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
3-4 cups packed baby spinach, torn
1 cup fresh basil, torn
freshly cracked black pepper

What you do:

Put the farro, water, and salt in a medium pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid. Cook until the water is absorbed - this takes about 20 minutes.

While the farro is cooking, roast the garlic heads. Separate the cloves, but leave them peeled. Put them on a tray (a toaster oven is just fine for this). Do not oil or spray the tray. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast the cloves for about 12-15 minutes - until the peels start to shrivel and brown a bit and the cloves are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the garlic is cooling, start the soup. In a very large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it is shimmering, add the onion and saute until it is soft and clear. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and stir for a minute. Then add the stock, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cover. 

Now don't forget to check on the farro. If it is done, add it to the soup!

The garlic should be cool by now. Use a sharp knife and cut off one end of each clove and peel. When they are all peeled, add them, entirely whole, to the soup.

Let all this simmer another 10-15 minutes which is just the right amount of time to tear the cleaned spinach and basil.

Add the torn greenery to the soup and stir well for a minute and smile gently while they reduce in size. Cover and cook for another two minutes.

Serve with a loaf of dense chewy peasant style bread, perhaps a glass of your favorite wine, and enjoy the mindfulness in peace.

With this recipe, I Declare World Peace.