Herbs n’ Spices Farro Salad, and the Green New Deal

I am so lucky to have a pantry stocked with food and a cabinet filled with spices. A report released this week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme reminded me how much of a luxury this can be. The report warned that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a year over year doubling of people suffering from severe hunger. 130 million people suffered from acute food insecurity last year, many of whom, paradoxically, were farm workers. The main drivers of food insecurity continue to be conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks, all of which are mutually reinforcing.

The climate crisis and the coronavirus crisis both exacerbate existing crises, like food insecurity, and have primarily been caused by poor management decisions. For example, the interconnected problems of industrial livestock production and environmental destruction are directly tied to the emergence of the novel coronavirus. Legislators should know that many solutions to mitigate the climate crisis already exist, such as forest protection and agroecology, likewise for the coronavirus pandemic such as social distancing and PPE.

The need for swift and effective public health and environmental legislation is clear and more critical than ever. Legislation such a Green Stimulus package like the Green New Deal. With plans to cut carbon emissions, increase resiliency, and develop a just economy, the Green New Deal is the type of legislation that will work to curb decades of injustice and irresponsibility. Both the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic are disproportionately affecting low-income communities and people of color, those most affected too, by hunger. It is a moral imperative for solutions to prioritize these communities and the Green New Deal does just that. Turns out this type of public policy could make us all happier too.

The sooner we get on the path to sustainability and justice, the more human, animal, and earth suffering will be averted. With our abundance of knowledge and solutions, the question we should be asking is, why aren’t we already on this path? In a way, the coronavirus crisis has opened a door to new possibilities we scarcely considered in the past. It’s up to all of us to decide if we will take this opportunity to rebuild a new and different world, or squander it in an attempt to revert to “normal.”

You probably came for the food, but you landed in a heap of my opinions instead! If you’re still looking to cook, here’s a tasty salad for you, courtesy of this millennial. The spice mix I use here is like a pared-down version of Baharat, a Middle Eastern spice blend. I like how the warming spices pair with the freshness of parsley and mint.

Herbs n’ Spices Farro Salad

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes the size of dice
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • A pinch of chili pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 150 gr feta cheese, chopped
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 handful parsley leaves, chopped
  • up to ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • Tahini dressing (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200 °C).
  2. First, prepare the farro. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Rinse the farro and toss it in the boiling water. Lower the heat a little and let it boil as you would pasta. It usually needs about 40 minutes to cook. Taste it and drain once you have reached your desired texture (not too chewy but not falling apart). Let cool.
  3. As the farro boils, cut the sweet potato into dice-sized cubes. I don’t peel mine; sweet potato skin isn’t tough once cooked. Mix the spices in a small bowl. Dump the sweet potatoes, the spice mix, and generous amounts of salt and olive oil on a large baking sheet. Mix with your hands to coat all the pieces and then spread evenly. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
  4. Dice the onion, chop the feta and the herbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and immediately toss the chickpeas in with them. Let cool for a few minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the farro, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, herbs, citrus juice, salt, and plenty of olive oil together. Lastly, stir in the feta cheese.
  7. The salad can be refrigerated for up to four days. Serve as is or with a tahini dressing made of tahini paste, lemon juice, salt, minced garlic, and water to thin it out.

NOTES:

  • This is the type of recipe that works well if you prep the components one day before mixing them all together. So I bake the sweet potatoes and cook the farro ahead of time.
  • It takes some time to put this salad together, but it can serve as your lunch for the entire week, saving you time in the long run.
  • If you can’t find farro, try this recipe with spelt, wheat berries, barley, rice, or quinoa.

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