With the warm spring weather this week, I experimented with two healthy, but super-delicious recipes. In order to get my husband and son on board with an entree salad, it's got to be really satisfying, not just a bowl of vegetables. Both of these fit the bill perfectly, and I can imagine the farro salad being one that I'll take to lots of potlucks, when potlucks are a thing again. It's portable and can be served at room temperature. Double the recipe, and you'll make a LOT. The Seared Ahi salad comes together quickly, and I served it for dinner with some steamed potstickers on the side. Delicious!
Hearty Farro Salad:
Yields: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25-45 minutes (depending on type of farro used)
*Notes: if using quick-cooking farro, a lot less broth will be needed, and cooking time is only about 10 minutes (follow package instructions). Use about 1 1/2 cups broth and drain any remaining broth after cooking.
Seared Ahi Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing:
Yields: 2 generous entree-sized servings
Prep Time (plus marinating time): 1 hour
Cook Time: 2-4 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
For Marinade and Dressing:
1. In a 2-cup capacity bowl or glass measuring cup, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, mirin, ginger, garlic, and juice of 1 lime. Whisk together. Add pepper to taste.
2. In a large zip lock bag, add ahi tuna steak. Pour in 1/4 cup dressing. Marinate for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Reserve remaining dressing to use as both salad dressing and a drizzle for the seared ahi.
3. Prepare salad. Combine lettuce, broccoli mix, shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, and cubed avocado. Toss gently with some of the salad dressing, reserving a bit to drizzle over the seared ahi.
4. In a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat pan and add coconut oil. Remove ahi tuna steak from marinade (shaking off excess marinade), and sear for approximately 1 - 2 minutes per side. Cooking time will depend on thickness of ahi steak and how rare you like it. I cooked mine for about 2 minutes total.
5. Slice ahi tuna steak and place onto salad. Drizzle with the remainder of dressing (or to your liking), then top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a squeeze of lime.
Not long ago, I read an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat by John Ash, the executive chef of the restaurant John Ash & Co. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Rosa. This was an article about comfort food, however, and a departure from the elevated cuisine at the restaurant. The recipe for Spaghetti Alla Rustica is a keeper!! I've made it about once a week for the last two months, so I've adapted it just a tiny bit. Don't be afraid of the anchovies! You will never know there are anchovies in this recipe, and there is absolutely no "fishy" taste. They completely transform in the garlicky olive oil when they break down. My teenagers and husband, who all really love this pasta, were completely amazed when I told them what the secret ingredient was. Make it!
This serves 4 people and takes only 15-20 minutes to make.
PASTA ALLA RUSTICA
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves peeled and finely chopped garlic
8+ anchovy fillets in olive oil (I like to use the whole tin - don't skimp!), chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
Sea salt, to taste
Red chile flakes, to taste
Optional: 1-2 tbsp capers or chopped olives (whichever kind you like), drained
1/2 pound dry spaghetti or bucatini
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1. Set oven to 200 (or "warm"). Place a serving bowl for spaghetti in the oven to warm.
2. Begin heating plenty of salted water to a boil for spaghetti.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and chopped anchovies and cook over low heat until they break up and mostly dissolve, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic and allow to gently cook until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in oregano, salt to taste and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. If using, add drained capers or chopped olives. Put in the serving bowl in the oven to keep warm.
4 Meanwhile, boil and cook spaghetti until just tender, al dente. RESERVE ABOUT A CUP OF THE PASTA WATER BEFORE DRAINING (I have a tendency to drain the whole pot and forget. These caps are for ME!) Drain the rest of the water and place the spaghetti in the heated serving bowl, tossing with anchovy mixture, parsley, zest and half the grated cheese. Add some of the reserved water (bit by bit) until you have a creamy sauce, stopping before the sauce becomes too thin. Top with the rest of the cheese and serve immediately...preferably with a glass of Sonoma Valley wine.
Stay safe, my friends!
Friends of Hacienda Sonoma, these are some trying times, aren't they? Here in California Wine Country, we've been knocked down three times in three years. First there were the 2017 fires and evacuation all around us. Then, more fires in 2019 (albeit a half-hour from us) but accompanied by several PG&E power shut-offs. Now, COVID-19. But if there's anything these events have shown us, it's that "Sonoma Strong" is more than a motto.
Once again, reservation cancellations are bringing their devastating effects to the "Food & Wine Capital" that is Sonoma Valley. The springtime beauty of our area is popping up everywhere, and yet, it's becoming unusually quiet while we reconsider our travel.
While we are not taking any short-term rentals until we see how this plays out, we are using this pause to make sure our guests can enjoy a happy and HEALTHY holiday in Wine Country when it is safe to return to renting. While we used to go for environmentally-correct organic household cleaning products, now it's all about Clorox and Lysol, my friends! We will be putting away fancy throw pillows and anything that cannot be entirely washed in the hottest water between every single reservation. I've even invested in two Commercial UV-C sanitizing wands to sanitize soft surfaces, like upholstery. I'm a little obsessed with germs right now, because I feel it's my responsibility to keep our guests healthy, and also because it's very personal for me -- I stay at Hacienda Sonoma once a month, too. We're in this together, and when we can begin renting again, we will be ready!
As for travel, I'm waiting to reconsider this summer's European trip I had all planned and paid for, and I know that if you have a reservation for the summer or fall, you're probably making the same decisions. I'd like to let you know that we are offering a discount of $150 if you have an existing reservation that you'd like to move to another date in the future if restricted travel affects your reservation. If you can't stay when you had planned, stay when it's safe, and we'll add $150 to your Sonoma wine fund.
Once you're ready to make a "CLEAN getaway" Hacienda Sonoma will be ready!
Stay healthy, my friends.
Hi, I'm Bridget Henry, owner of Hacienda Sonoma, along with my husband, Rick. We searched over 5 years for our ideal location in Wine Country, when I stumbled upon a commercial building that was built prior to the tiny residential neighborhood that had grown up around it, smack in the ♥ of Sonoma Valley. Location, location, location! Lots of work later, it's where we wish we could be all the time, but until then, we love sharing it with the nicest people from all over the world. It's a happy place, and I'm convinced it's because of all the good times and memories that are created there. It's been the best 12 years ever; growing and making wine, and sharing our enthusiasm for all things Wine Country. We can't wait to show you how amazing Sonoma Valley is!