Squash and Kale Maple-Mustard Farro - Using your shelf stable ingredients during quarantine
Like many of you, quarantine has made me start shifting my grocery shopping style. I used to love the convenience of walking to my local coop for fresh ingredients anytime I wanted, and walking to the farmers market on weekends to enjoy more local specialty goods. I now see how lucky I was to have such convenience. I did not have to worry about forgetting an ingredient, or my fresh greens going bad because I could return to the store in a few days for more. In an effort to do my part, and participate in social distancing, I have been making grocery trips last 10 - 14 days. I have shared my go-to shelf stable ingredients in the "enjoy later" list below. The recipe below was whipped up from my shelf stable ingredients. It does include greens, but I chose a hearty green that holds up well and is more shelf stable than most salad greens.
Making your groceries last and trying not to let anything spoil definitely takes effort when buying larger quantities, but if you plan ahead, it can be done. For fresh goods, always organize the items using FIFO (first in, first out). FIFO has become a very common phrase in my house over the past few weeks. When purchasing fresh foods, try not to stock up on fresh unless you plan to freeze some, or the food falls in the shelf stable category ("Enjoy later" list below). As a registered dietitian, I frequently hear people tell me that they are not eating as many vegetables as they should, or want to. I am also hearing that the anxiety around shopping as well as availability of certain ingredients is making it more difficult to eat a balanced diet right now. Below are a few quick tips to help you plan your next shopping trip.
1. Plan what meals you would like to make over the next few weeks. This will help you shop for everything you need to execute the meals. Try to plan meals that have a few similar ingredients. Look through the cupboards to see what you already have and use that to start the menu planning process.
2. Continue to buy fresh fruits and veggies! Use the lists below to help you decide which to eat first and which you can save for later.
3. Keep frozen vegetables and fruit on hand for back up. Frozen fruits and vegetables have just as much nutritional value as fresh, and sometimes even more. Just be sure the frozen options do not have added sugar, or sauces that are full of sodium.
4. Freeze fresh food. Many people are telling me there are not many options in the grocery store, but fresh produce always seems to be available. If you do not have experience freezing food from fresh, the National Center for Home Food Preservation website is a very comprehensive resource that will help you do it right. You can also learn other preservation techniques such as fermenting and canning.
5. FIFO. First in, first out. Eat the oldest foods first, otherwise you risk letting them spoil.
6. Prepare batch meals that you can freeze to lock in the nutrients while also allowing variety. You do not need to eat the same meals everyday, especially when we are in the same space day after day.
7. Do not store bananas with your other fruit, they cause other fruit to ripen faster.
8. Do not store onions and potatoes together, they cause each other to ripen and go bad faster. Store in a cool dark place.
9. Keep a few things on hand that are very versatile and can be used with a variety of fresh / frozen produce. Canned fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce canned beans, broths, and soups. Dry goods: Brown rice, millet, farro, lentils, pasta, oats, a variety of nuts and seeds and dry herbs/spices. My favorite canned tomato products are the Muir Glen Organic. They taste great, and are not loaded with excess sodium or sugar.
While the lists below are not all inclusive, I hope you find them helpful when making your grocery list, and deciding what to eat first.
Fresh berries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
Greens: Spinach, romaine, arugula, mixed greens
Fresh cut herbs
Zucchini, summer squash
Winter squash such as delicata, spaghetti, acorn, butternut etc.
Greens: Kale, Collards
Now for the shelf stable ingredient recipe!
I paired this side with salmon, this could be paired with any protein you choose. As this is made with shelf stable ingredients, and will likely be consumed close to your next shopping trip, you will likely be pairing it with protein from the freezer, or a shelf stable source such as tofu, tempeh, sausage etc. Frozen fish is great because it can be defrosted relatively quickly.
Squash and Kale Maple-Mustard Farro
Makes 6 servings
What you need:
For the dressing:
2 Tbsp Mustard
2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Maple Syrup
1/2 lemon juiced, or about 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
2 Tbsp Olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
pinch of onion powder
1 cup farro, rinsed
1 bunch of kale, washed, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
To make it a meal - Add protein of your choice. (Maple mustard salmon recommended).
1. Pre-heat oven to 475°F
2. Brush squash with olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet, and put squash in the pre-heated oven. Start timer for 35 - 40 min.
3. In a large pot, combine farro, pinch of onion powder, salt and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, and simmer on low to medium-low uncovered.
5. If you are making salmon, place in baking dish. Salt and pepper your salmon and set aside until about 8 minutes remain on the squash bake time. At this point brush salmon with maple mustard, or make your own. (1-2 tsp per 5 ounce piece) and place in the oven to bake at 475 for 8 minutes.
6. Strain excess water from Farro and lightly toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
7. In a large skillet, cook onion over medium heat until translucent. Add kale and stir until all leaves are lightly wilted.
8. Remove squash from the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the salmon in the oven to finish cooking and keep warm for just a few minutes while you finish the farro.
9. Remove the skin from the squash, it should peel right away from the flesh with minimal effort. (Be careful not to burn yourself, it will be hot).
10. Cube your squash and combine it to the onion/kale mix along with the farro.
11. Top with dressing, toss to combine and serve with the salmon, or protein of your choice.
**Farro is not gluten free. If you need to follow a gluten free diet pattern, you can substitute brown rice or millet.
If you do not have kale. you can sub spinach, beet greens, chard or collards. Sweet potatoes can be used in place of squash.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it brings a little bit of healthy yum to your day. Stay healthy, stay active, and stay positive.