I have a bulk foods obsession. There are several reasons why, but one of the primary reasons is long-term storage. I'm working towards building up a usable supply of food, and dry items that store well make up the majority of it right now. I also love being able to buy small amounts of an item that I don't use that much or might expire before I use it up. Honestly, I find it down right exciting to browse the bulk bins and see the variety and usually good prices.
I think it all started with 101Cookbooks, an amazing, inspiring blog. For one so seemingly modest and quiet, somehow Heidi (the author of 101 Cookbooks) has influenced my kitchen life in so many ways. She does not push any trends or ideas; she is just herself, and that is the trend. She just leads her quiet life, and slowly I absorb it all. She is vegetarian, cooks in season, shops at farmers markets and small shops (ethnic or bakeries), cooks from scratch, shuns processed foods, stocks a variety of grains and flours, leads a simple life, and admires the everyday beauty of life.
I mainly use canning jars for storage, but have also mixed in reused jars. My labels are either cut from the package and stored inside the jar or written on a piece of masking/scotch tape on the outside of the jar. I don't like making permanent labels because I mix up the jar I use depending on the quantity of the item. Sometimes items are bought in traditional packaging, but once open I find it easier to store in an airtight container, like a jar.
This is a list of what is pictured above:
large flake coconut
brown basmati rice
yellow split peas
soft wheat berries
dried red peppers
So in that vein, I finally found farro in the bulk section of my local health food store. I have been searching for it for years. Having seen it several times in a sealed bag, I always passed it up because it was so expensive. Farro is a grain common in Italy, but I've usually seen that barley is a good substitute. Well, I'll tell you the truth - barley and farro are very similar, in looks, taste, and texture. So now that I know, I'll probably stick with barley most of the time.
Farro and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
from 101 Cookbooks
2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
5 cups water (or stock)
3 cups sweet potatoes OR butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large red onion cut into 1/8ths
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted
3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (or more olive oil)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.
While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Toss the squash and onions every 5-7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides. Remove from the oven, let cool a bit, and mince just 1/2 of the red onions.
In a large bowl gently toss the everything (except the goat cheese) with the toasted walnut oil (or olive oil). Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary. Serve family-style in a simple bowl or on a platter garnished with the goat cheese.