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