Saturday, January 19th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

The Cooking Chronicles: More from Smitten Kitchen

Mack always teases me that I have my “phases”. He says that I’m currently in my smoothies-for-breakfast phase and my Scandal phase, though based on our cooking schedule recently, I think he’d also say I’m in a Smitten Kitchen phase.

Over the holidays, I didn’t feel too inspired to try new recipes, but browsing through Deb’s website and new cookbook, I immediately bookmarked a handful of recipes. We tried a few more last week.

Mushroom Lasagna

Though the mushroom lasagna is actually Ina Garten’s recipe, I came across it through the Smitten Kitchen website. The idea of a lighter, meatless lasagna was really appealing, as was the prospect of leftovers.

Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom lasagna

The recipe worked out really well, and my only quibble was recommending 3/4 lb of pasta instead of a full box. Deb mentions that not layering the pasta resulted in uniform slices, but I would have preferred not having leftover pasta. We probably also could have done with a melty mozzarella crust on top.

Mushroom Lasagna

Lunch portion!

But as a whole, it was a lovely pasta, with a luxurious combination of bechemel and sautéed mushrooms. It would make an excellent vegetarian main course.

Honey Harissa Farro Salad

It seems like it was only a few years ago that I learned that salad did not have to be comprised of greens alone. Since then, we’ve made and enjoyed salads that have included everything from couscous to lentils. The honey harissa farro salad in The Smitten Kitchen cookbook looked interesting for that reason, though I have to say I was a little apprehensive about experimenting with farro, as our experience with another grain-based salad (bulgur) did not go well.

We found farro in the bulk section at Planet Organic. The grains resembled rice in their shape, but ranged in colour from light brown to golden. As directed by the recipe, we prepared the farro by boiling it (in stock on this occasion), and simmering it for 20 minutes. The cooked grain then puffed up, though surprisingly, did not take on much of the stock’s flavour, but resembling barley in its chewiness.

We combined the farro with roasted Kuhlmann’s parsnips and Greens, Eggs and Ham carrots and tossed it in a dressing made from olive oil and harissa. The salad was topped with fresh mint, and some Smoky Valley goat cheese.

Honey and Harissa Farro Salad

Honey harissa farro salad

We probably should have stuck to the recipe on the cheese front (it had recommended feta), as the goat cheese overwhelmed the flavours. Mack also couldn’t get used to the interaction between the spicy dressing and the mint. I was really impressed by how the addition of farro really “bulked” up the salad (Deb’s word), as it really did transform the dish into a meal in itself.

I’m not done with Smitten Kitchen just yet – I still have the rest of the book to cook through!