The Broad Fork Cookbook Review & Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets

Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

I was so thrilled to get this new cookbook, The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson. It read it's focus is recipes that implement the abundance of fresh produce delivered by a CSA (community supported agriculture). "I get a CSA box!", I excited thought to myself. This will be a terrific cookbook. A solution to the frequent, "What do I do with this?" head-scratching that sometimes accompanies the privilege of subscribing to a CSA. 

Perhaps my expectations were just a bit too high and a wee bit premature. 

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

The cookbook is divided by season and subcategorized by ingredient which I think is really fun and quite useful. Hugh writes, "This is a vegetable-centric guide to seasonal offerings." I feel I must begrudgingly disagree with him.

Yes, it's no shock that this is not a vegan let alone a vegetarian cookbook (I honestly kind of expected it to be vegetarian...) With a subtitle like, Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits, I think this cookbook is a disappointingly misleading for those of us that are truly vegetable-centric (ie plant-based). Of course all the recipes do have plants (don't most?) but I didn't find the vegetables to the star of the show, as hinted. Doesn't it seem like that should be the point?

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

Some of Hugh's recipes include a few obscure ingredients (Espelette pepper, Manchego cheese, sorghum molasses, malt vinegar, Hungarian chile). He often doesn't provide any weights (grams or ounces) alongside his measurements (how much is exactly 2 cups of dates?). Many recipes require the home cook to make some little recipe on another page to be incorporated into this recipe. I know this is a common phenomenon, but it also happens to be a personal pet peeve of mine. There is no way I'm going to delve into making the preserved lemon on page blankety-blank to add to the gremolata in the recipe I'm trying to make. It just won't happen. You can't make me. 

In this cookbook, there are many...meat-centric recipes. More than vegetable-focused ones I should think. Pan-roasted pork tenderloin with sorghum and roasted apples / duck breast with indian eggplant pickle, / grilled pork belly with persimmons and spicy soy vinaigrette, turkey, andouille shrimp / collard greens gumbo, just to name a few. The plants definitely seem to take a backseat, no? Good luck substituting tempeh, seitan, and soy in all of those! And don't even get me started on the octopus in this cookbook! I daresay almost heaved the book across the room in sheer fright of the sight; a tangle of purple tentacles occupying an entire photo page.* Seriously what is that?

                                             *footnote: I have a most unusual, not to mention unsound, phobia of octopus tentacles so this would probably be a grave overreaction for most.

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.
Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

Perhaps I'm just jaded from all the wonderful, legitimate plant-based cookbooks I've had the pleasure of reviewing. The Broad Fork wasn't a total letdown (maybe I've been to severe in my review). I did vastly appreciate that half the book wasn't an appreciation of "what's in my pantry" or "here's how to chop a carrot" chapters. I know how to stock my pantry and use a knife, thank you. I don't need a 325 page instructional on what a potato peeler is and how to use it. 

My favorite part of this book is that almost every produce chapter includes a recipe to either make said produce into a long-term storage item or just use up a lot of that fruit or vegetable. As a consequence, there's a lot of pickling recipes...but also apple butter, purees, jams, etc. 

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

If you're not vegan, this is a pretty neat cookbook that will definitely stretch you outside your comfort zone of creativity in the kitchen. A good thing! However, if you are vegan I recommend passing on this one. There's hidden jewels of unique recipes that can be adapted but I'm not sure if it's worth rifling through the meat and animal-laden recipes to find and salvage them. 

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.
Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

I had to look through the cookbook twice to finally find a meal I could make. Hugh's farro and beet salad. It was honestly one of the only dishes that I wouldn't have had to meddle with too much and yet, there are too many adaptations I made to to even list. Regarding both the ingredients and the recipe flow. Also, my salad looked absolutely nothing like his; this gave me a good chortle for some reason. Leave it to me to take his beautiful masterpiece (I'd hang it on my wall..) and work it into the dreaded burgundy blob you see below! 

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

However, that burgundy blob is one of the best things I've ever tasted. Enough said. You need to make this syrupy salad.

Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets

Recipe by Kathleen Henry @ Produce On Parade

Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

Yield: 6 side dish servings

Ingredients

  • 16 (10 oz) pitted medjool dates
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup farro, dry
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems discarded
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 5 (1 .5 lbs beetroot trimmed) medium beets with their greens, scrubbed clean
  • 1 tbsp red miso
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup large-flake nutritional yeast

Cooking Directions

  1. Add the dates, salt, crushed red pepper, and vinegar to a small saucepan. Pour in just enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the dates are tender. When done, strain out the dates and reduce the vinegar liquid over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes until it has reduced by half. Mash the dates with the back of a wooden spoon and set both the dates and the liquid aside.
  2. While the dates cook, heat the butter over medium in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the dry farro and cook an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the thyme leaves and 1 cup of water; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in another 1 cup of water and cook an additional 5 minutes. Scoop out about ¼ cup of the hot water and whisk the miso paste into it. Set aside.
  3. While the farro simmers, clean the beets and cut off the greens. Remove the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and slice the leaves into ribbons. Using a mandolin, slice enough beet to fill ½ cup (about 1 beet). Set aside. Small dice the remaining beets and set aside.
  4. Add the diced beets (do not add the shaved beets yet), greens, and the remaining 2 cups of water. Over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, cook the farro for about 20-30 minutes until the water has evaporated and the farro is tender.
  5. Stir in the shaved beets, reduced vinegar liquid, mashed dates, and miso, as well as the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine and serve hot!
Produce On Parade - The Broad Fork Cookbook review and a recipe for Balsamic Farro Salad w/ Dates & Beets - Sweet and savory with salty notes from the miso, this tangy-balsamic farro salad is studded with tender beets, mashed Medjool dates, and fresh herbs. It's a unique and stunningly delicious flavor profile. A perfect side dish and the tastiest way to use up all those beets! Heavily adapted from The Broad Fork cookbook.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Find The Broad Fork on Amazon.com.

*DISCLAIMER*  PRODUCE ON PARADE IS A PERSONAL BLOG WRITTEN AND EDITED BY MYSELF ONLY, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. MY REVIEWS ARE COMPLETELY BASED ON MY OWN OPINION OF THE PRODUCT REVIEWED. THESE PRODUCTS WERE SUPPLIED TO ME AS GIFTS TO TEST AND REVIEW. OTHERWISE, IF I MENTION A COMPANY BY NAME AND THERE IS NO DISCLAIMER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST, I AM MERELY WRITING ABOUT SOMETHING I LIKE, PURCHASE AND/OR USE. THE FACT THAT I DO RECEIVE A PRODUCT AS A GIFT TO TEST AND REVIEW, WILL NEVER POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THE CONTENT MADE IN THIS POST.

Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge

This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Slightly adapted from Peachy Plate.

Produce On Parade - Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge - This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Adapted from Peachy Plate.

You know the things that inevitably change your life for the better? Like seriously for the better? They don't happen all that often, or as often as I'd like. Most recently though was creating a Pandora radio station based on Come And Get Your Love by Redbone (think Guardians of the Galaxy). Another was replacing paper towels and mopping pads with reuseable microfiber clothes. Goodbye paper towels. And now, it's this fudge. An odd assortment, I agree, but it is what it is.

Hold your head! You were not made for failure, you were made for victory. Go forward with joyful confidence.
— George Eliot

I have an insane sweet tooth. Sugar is my vice. Speaking of which, Todd and I watched the documentary Fed Up about a week ago. It basically explains how sugar is added to everything (bagels, ketchup, flour tortillas, salsa, etc.) and how cocaine addicted rats (what kind of monsters would do such a thing?), when provided with both cocaine water and sugar water...went for the sugar. Yikes! That shit's in errything, but it's not really shocking. People already know this, right? This should not be a surprise.

Anyways, at the end of the film Katie Couric convinces you to do their 10-Day Fed Up Challenge. No added sugars, no exceptions, no mercy! Not even artificial or zero-calorie sweeteners (goodbye for now, Zevia...though I might have used a few drops of liquid stevia in emergencies...namely coffee). Now, I know added sugar is everything but I don't really care. I need the stuff. Suffice to say I had a mild panic attack when Todd excitedly gasped, "We should do the challenge!" Excuse me, what? What is this world coming to when my junk-food loving husband is willing to give up sugar completely for 10 days. "Oh, yea...well...only if you really want to honey." I managed through clenched teeth and frightened eyes. Could I do this challenge? I guess I was about to find out. 

We only have a few days left. The gig is up on Monday and this girl needs her Silk coffee creamer. Soymilk and a few drops of stevia with maple extract can only be so acceptable*. However, I can't say I didn't come through without a few changed behaviors. I know I'll think twice about which salsa I pick up. Maybe I'll use less sugar in my homemade bread and replace granulated sugar with date sugar in my baked goods, etc. It wouldn't be true to tell you that the challenge really didn't affect me. Though I confess, I honestly thought it would change nothing*not at all acceptable

Produce On Parade - Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge - This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Adapted from Peachy Plate.

However, after five days I desperately needed some sweets. Sweets withdrawal. Tea just wasn't cutting it. Feeling very burnt-out creatively (after finishing up the  manuscript for the cookbook) I decided not to experiment too much and peruse the internet for flour-free (did I mention you're not to have white flour either?), no sugar added (including natural sweeteners!) desserts. I finally landed on a fudge that I had actually already been wanting to make since I came across it several months ago on Peachy Plate

Let me first say that I'm almost always unimpressed by such "whole-food" desserts, as they usually end up absolutely dreadful. I've had my fair share of clean-eating dessert run-ins mind you. Every once and awhile I'll decide I absolutely eat entirely too much chocolate, desserts, you name it and force myself to go a on a dessert-clean-eating trip. It usually doesn't end well. Cardboard cookies, crumbly brownies, tasteless muffins, etc.

Produce On Parade - Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge - This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Adapted from Peachy Plate.

But this  is different. I won't tell you it's super sweet and sugary and melt-in-your-mouth like regular fudge. It's not really fair to compare the two. But it does have a wonderfully smooth texture, it's rich, slightly sweet, and full of that craveable, deep chocolate flavor. My favorite thing is that it's healthy enough to eat on the regular (as a daily snack). So, I guess it doesn't solve my biggest food issue...eating dessert errryday. Oh well. I'm still tickled pink about this fudge. Just look at those stats! And no, I don't normally calculate the nutritional information for my meals but I couldn't resist finding out how much protein and fiber were in these bad boys. Eat up!

Produce On Parade - Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge - This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Adapted from Peachy Plate.

Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge

Recipe by Katie @ Produce On Parade

This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Slightly adapted from Peachy Plate.

Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 large squares

Calories per serving: 155

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (60g) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (90g) pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • two pinches of kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant, freeze-dried coffee (optional)
  • 6 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Add everything to a food processor and process until super smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. If your dates are a bit old and not very soft anymore, soak them in enough boiling water to cover for about 10-20 minutes, then drain.
  2. Transfer the fudge to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper and smooth out the top with a spatula so it's even.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing into 8 squares. Serve chilled. Store in an airtight container the fridge. One large square has 155 calories, 7 g fat, 19 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 7 g natural sugar, 4 g protein.
Produce On Parade - Dark Chocolate Protein Fudge & The Fed Up Challenge - This delicious, rich fudge is full of protein thanks to a little help from good ol' black beans and peanut butter, and is sweetened with dates! No added sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar here, folks. You won't believe how incredible this fudge is. It's a new staple snack/dessert in our home and the perfect thing to grab for a healthy breakfast on the go. Best yet, it's ready in 35 minutes. Adapted from Peachy Plate.

Information For The Day

Read all about how our modern lives are totally messing us up. For real though, you need to learn about gut microbiomes. Get the scoop, here, from NPR. "Looks like many of us don't have the right stomach for a paleo diet. Literally." Ditch the paleo already.