on happiness + farro salad with blood orange, kumquat & kale

farro salad with blood orange, kumquat & kale // brooklyn supper
I had a startling experience at Alt Summit when I joined the Go Mighty Life List workshop on the last day. I went in wanting to support my friends but feeling like a total pro; after all, I’d already spent a weekend last fall contemplating my happiness and goals. But, as I stared at the blank screen on my tablet and prepared to write a list of things I wanted to accomplish, things that would make me happy, I realized how far away I’d gotten from many of the things that were important to me, and how much time I’m giving to things that don’t matter to me. It was a sudden and intense realization that left me feeling overwhelmed and a little misty.  And actually, it was the second time in a month that I’ve had this powerful feeling. Both times, I was trying to tell myself something.

While my wonderful husband and darling, sweet children make me incredibly happy and I’m lucky to have a cozy home, good food, and warm clothes, something is missing. When I came home from the conference, Brian and I talked about it and both felt the same way. So we’ve made a pretty big decision to set our lives on a new course. We’re still in the planning phase, so I’m not quite ready to make any announcements, but the bottom line is, this year will have big changes.

Life is busy, and it can be hard to reflect, but it’s essential and I’m going to make time for it. I’m also going to make more time for the things I love; among them, making myself a nice lunch in the middle of a weekday. And that’s where this lovely salad comes in. Consider it the first step on my journey towards real and lasting happiness.

farro salad with blood orange, kumquat & kale // brooklyn supper

Blood oranges and kumquats add bright, bracing notes of citrus to an otherwise earthy salad. Under the blanket of acid and salt, the somewhat tough leaves of wintertime kale become supple and delicious. The farro lends bite and texture, and melds wonderfully with the slightly sweet sauteed shallots.

I had a packet of Trader Joe’s quick-cooking farro on hand. I combined 1 cup of farro, 2 cups water, and a good 1/2 teaspoon or so of sea salt in a medium sauce pan, brought everything to a boil, and then covered and simmered for 12 minutes. The resulting farro was just as nutty and toothsome as the slower-cooking sort, and definitely gets my stamp of approval.

Farro Salad with Kumquats, Blood Orange, and Kale

for the kumquat dressing
1/2 cup whole kumquats
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
drizzle of water
generous pinch of sea salt

for the salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 cup farro, cooked according to instructions, or as outlined above
3 cups mixed kale, cut into thin ribbons
3 blood oranges, supremed
1/4 cup sliced kumquats
1/2 teaspoon, or more, sea salt

To make the dressing, combine everything in a blender, pureeing until smooth. Add water or salt as needed.

Place the kale ribbons on a large serving bowl. Drizzle with half the dressing, sprinkle in some sea salt, turn leaves to coat, and set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot slices, and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the shallots are browned on the edges and translucent.

Gently toss the remaining ingredients with the kale, adding a few more slugs of dressing and adjusting salt levels as needed. Set aside for a few minutes while flavors commingle, and serve.


  1. says

    I like this. So disappointed I couldn’t be there with you (boo, stupid bad health), but I can’t wait to hear what new direction things are taking. I’m glad we got a chance to chat over lunch before my 48-hour nap. You’re one of the things that makes me happy.

  2. says

    Looking forward to hearing about your plans!

    I love salads like this–a little bit grain, a little bit veggie, a little bit fruit, a lot delicious.

  3. says

    Love this salad. And love the idea of setting aside the time to make something nice for one’s self, mid-day! Looking forward to hearing about your plans. I’m sure they will be wonderful.

  4. says

    There is something so restorative and zen about sitting down to a nice meal in the middle of the day. Why don’t we let ourselves enjoy that pleasure more often? Something healthy and refreshing for body and soul. Here’s wishing you peace and happiness in the new year!

  5. says

    It was so good to see you at Alt. Even though we’ve just met I feel like you’re an old friend. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support some radical change in 2013. XO

  6. Zenzi says

    I have never had a kumquat before — but your photo and recipe looked so appetizing, so I marked it. I just made this, and oh wow! The tart kick of the kumquats, the sweetness of the shallots, the heartiness of the kale, I’m in heaven.

    I’m going to spread the word about your amazing recipe. Thanks for introducing me to kumquats and for sharing your culinary genius with the internets!!!!

  7. says

    I’m always blown away when I come here with how creative, gorgeous and delicious everything is! As I’ve always said, you are so, SO talented and I am certain that amazing things will come out of whatever in this world you put your heart and mind to.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *