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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

This stand-out, fit-for-a king entrée derives its natural sweetness by merging a riot of dried fruits with beans and farro, a unique grain with ancestral roots in ancient Egypt. Chestnuts, an often underutilized, delicately sweet treat of the autumn and holiday season, add their special richness to this jubilee of flavors. The festive holiday table is the perfect occasion to present this delicious dish that's been blessed with the perfect medley of sweet, savory, and lightly spicy flavors. Complete the meal with a bountiful tossed salad and a steamed green vegetable.


Farro's Feast Yield: 8 to 10 servings

    3 cups (720 ml) water
    1 cup (240 ml) farro (I use Melissa's)
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    2 medium onions, chopped
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water, plus more as needed
    3 cloves garlic, chopped

    2 (15-ounce/424g) cans garbanzo beans, including liquid
    3/4 cup (180 ml) peeled and steamed chestnuts, halved (I use Melissa's)
    2/3 cup ((160 ml) dried cranberries (I use Melissa's)
    2/3 cup (160 ml) golden raisins
    2/3 cup (160 ml dried Turkish apricots, diced
    2/3 cup (160 ml) dried tart sweetened cherries (optional--I use Melissa's)
    1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    Pinch cayenne

    12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    Salt and pepper

    4 cups (1 liter) baby spinach leaves

    6 to 8 purple or green Napa cabbage leaves, for garnish (I use Melissa's)

    1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. TO PREPARE THE FARRO, combine the water, farro, and salt in a 3-quart (3 liter) saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 35 to 40 minutes or until the grains are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Set aside.
  2. TO PREPARE THE FEAST, put the onions, water, and garlic in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions are softened and transparent, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning the vegetables.
  3. Add the garbanzos and their liquid, the chestnuts, cranberries, raisins, apricots, cherries (if using), lemon juice, soy sauce, and cayenne. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer to infuse the flavors.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes and the cooked farro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add the spinach and toss just until the spinach has wilted.
  6. Line the outer edge of the serving platter with the Napa cabbage leaves. Spoon the farro mixture into the center and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
If using Melissa's chestnuts, use a kitchen scissors to cut open the package. Chop the chestnuts into halves or quarters and set aside. Refrigerate the remaining chestnuts for a future recipe.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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