December Bowl – Pear, Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad with Farro
Beginning this blog has already changed the way I eat in so many ways. I feel challenged to explore new flavors. I’m thinking more about the food that I put on my table. I’m educating myself constantly, almost obsessively, about food. Perhaps the most vital change I’ve made is to eat the food that is in season.
I didn’t used to think much about eating seasonally. I’d choose a recipe that looked good and then struggle at the store through sad, overpriced selections of bland tomatoes or wilted spinach. I expected the produce section to fit my menu, when it should have been the other way around. I’ve gotten better over the years. In recent months, however, it’s become a real passion.
Why is it so important to eat seasonally? Let me count the ways. No seriously, let’s count them:
- Better flavors: If you’ve ever eaten an apple off the tree, or a fresh picked sugar snap pea, you know. Food allowed to ripen on the vine and eaten fresh tastes wonderful.
- More nutritious: Fruits and veggies picked at the peak of ripeness are nutritionally superior to those picked early for shipping. Also, many types of produce begin to lose vitamins and minerals rapidly after being picked. Food wasn’t made to withstand long travel times.
- Environmentally responsible: Food that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles on a truck has a smaller carbon footprint.
- Affordable: Seasonal food is cheaper! You’re getting better quality for less money.
- Eat local: Small local farms are growing produce in season. By buying these varieties, you can support local business!
Those are five serious reasons to get on board with this. And I’m going to make it easy for you. I’m throwing a bunch of tasty seasonal stuff in a bowl, tossing it together, and loving every bite of it! And I wrote it all down for you, so you can grab a bowl and love it too. It’s a shamefully healthy bowl of December goodness.
This is a wonderful, filling, and easy lunch. The arugula is crisp and has that fresh bite to it that pairs amazingly with balsamic. The sweet potato rounds are slightly caramelized and sweet. The toasted pecans add a rich, nutty crunch. And who doesn’t love the sweetness of ripe, juicy pears with tangy blue cheese?
Why is it good for you?
Farro is high in protein and fiber but low in calories, making it a great grain for weight loss. It’s also a good source of iron, and is gluten-free and easy to digest.
Arugula, like all leafy greens, is high in many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Unlike many leafy greens, arugula is low in oxalates, which are known to inhibit the body’s absorption of minerals. This, paired with high levels of vitamin K, makes arugula a huge boost for bone health.
Sweet potatoes are a serious superfood, packed with vitamin A (eye health booster and antioxidant), potassium and magnesium (blood pressure helpers) and fiber. Our salad also contains plenty of healthy fats, which help the body absorb all of that awesome vitamin A.
Pears are packed with fiber, as well as phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Keep that skin on – half the fiber and most of the phytonutrients are in the skin! Recent research has linked pears (and apples) with a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, as their particular flavonoids improve insulin sensitivity.
- 1/2 cup uncooked farro
- 1 small sweet potato
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
- 1 oz. unsalted pecans
- 1 small red Anjou pear (or other seasonal variety), cored and sliced.
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Prepare farro according to the package directions. Allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash sweet potatoes with a vegetable brush and slice in thin rounds.
- In a bowl, toss sweet potato slices with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Spread sweet potato slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and roast until fork-tender and beginning to brown, 25-35 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.
- Turn oven to broil.
- Spread pecans in a single layer on the same parchment lined pan used for the sweet potatoes.
- Broil pecans until toasted and beginning to darken in color, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Between two salad bowls, divide the arugula, farro, sweet potato, blue cheese, pecans, and pear slices.
- Top with black pepper, olive oil and vinegar to taste and toss well.*
*To dress my salad, I used 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.