Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related


one pot meal

Hearty and Healthy ~ Chicken Farro Stew

powerhouse dinner
powerhouse dinner

So i met Farro last year… i was thumbing through a magazine and saw a lovely rustic one pot meal involving some browned sweet sausages, bright and beautiful spinach and carrots and something called ‘farro‘… what in the hell, i asked, is FARRO??  (linked wiki there for ya)  so i got to googling it and hopping around on food sites, and long story short, i was in Whole Foods later that afternoon buying some in bulk!  -and i’ve been cooking with it ever since. it is the most amazing and easy addition to various soups, stews, salads, etc.  you literally toss it into a pot, add water until level is about two inches above that of the farro, and bring it up to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins. drain and set aside.  that’s it!!  then you can take and add it to whatever you have in mind!  OR, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, adding it on top of salads, mix it into your morning yogurt, stir it in with some oatmeal, add it to wonton soup when you get Chinese…. you feelin’ me?!?  Farro makes an already healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner choice all the more healthy… and it’s great post workout too, to help the body recover. WHY? it contains lots of B3’s (niacin) which helps your body break down fats & carbs like a motha.  it has tons of magnesium for muscle support too! it’s protein and fiber rich- and it has a fantastic nutty and chewy texture!  get on board yo!

so the other day i was thinking… “spags, you have some leftover tortellini in there, you have some farro in the pantry, you have plenty of canned tomatoes, a fridge full of veggies, fresh thyme in the garden begging to be used and some tomato paste in a little baggie in the freezer you’ve been meaning to use up.”  visions of a stew started to dance in my mind…. totally could have gone ‘meatless’ here PS. -and please do if you desire!  i happened to also have two bone in chicken breasts begging me to rub them down and roast them. so they got invited to this soiree.

HOPPING ON SOAP BOX….  if you have never been educated by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa on how easy and mouth watering it is to roast bone in chicken breasts for use in almost any capacity…  then you need to listen to this.

basically you are lining a baking sheet with either foil, parchment, or silpat –  rubbing the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper,  and place it into a 350* oven for 45 mins. walk away! that’s IT! no fussing, no mussing.  take it out, let it cool on the pan or a plate- and slice it up later to use in your recipe- or serve as is… with some garlic mashed potatoes and freshly steamed green beans!  the possibilities are endless here folks.  i added some fresh thyme to mine, just under the skin.

ready for the oven.
ready for the oven.
Finito! yummy.
Finito! yummy.

next up- get your Farro going.  just like i told you up in the first paragraph. giddy up.

i used one heaping cup of dry.
i used one heaping cup of dry.

While the farro is cooking, chop up some vegetables.  IDLE HANDS YO…. i used :

  • one large carrot, diced
  • one large onion, diced
  • half of bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups or so of fresh spinach leaves (roughly chopped) 1 small bag is fine! use it all.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Then you need:

a bag of tortellini- (cook according to package instructions and set aside to cool), olive oil, red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp), a small can of tomato paste, 28oz can diced tomatoes, 1 can chicken broth,  1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp nutmeg


in your favorite cooking vessel… heat up a glug of olive oil… add to it your red pepper flakes. once they dance around, begin adding your chopped vegetables. (NOT the spinach)  saute them over medium heat until they start to look tender and delicious.  see below:

i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you...
i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you…

then take and add your can of chicken broth, your can of tomatoes, your tomato paste and all of the spices. bring up to boil, and then immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover.  cook like this for 15 mins.


Then give it a stir, and add in your chopped chicken, if you are using chicken.  see below.

even one breast would be adequate here... make some chicken salad with the other one!
even one breast would be adequate here… make some chicken salad with the other one!

Then go ahead and add the spinach and the farro and stir well to combine! Lastly, add in the tortellini, and stir gently to combine.  Replace the lid and simmer for ten more minutes and then it is ready to serve!!


don't even need to use the whole bag... just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
don’t even need to use the whole bag… just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!

a vegetarian stew… hearty enough for carnivores

so this is some delicious Moroccan chickpea stew… i know to some it may sound “yucky”… or a little too ‘fancy’ for the average home cook; but i’m here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong on both accounts!! this is one of the easier dishes i make on a regular basis, and it is absolutely yummy. i have to say, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a dish without meat in it too! this recipe comes straight out of  Cooking Light, the November 2007 issue. when i think about this dish, it evokes thoughts of sitting beside a cozy fire in the comfort of my own home.  -but the funny thing about it is… if you serve it over the cous-cous like i always do, it’s just as yummy to have it in the spring and summer with the nice breeze blowing it’s aroma out your window and onto the patio!!  bottom line… ‘ u gonna like it’.

chickpea stew
super healthy and super delish!!


Add a swirl of olive oil to a nice, sturdy dutch oven. (large saucepan) Dice a large onion (small dice), set aside. Mince two or three cloves of garlic, set aside.  Cut two large carrots (peeled) into small bite sized pieces, set aside. Take a jalapeno pepper (for more heat do not seed- for mild dish seed it) and finely dice it.  set aside.  doing all of this prep work first makes throwing this one pot meal together a piece of cake… trust me.  Take three medium yukon gold potatoes, wash and dry and then cut into bite sized pieces. i never peel them, ever. set them aside.  OK, turn on your heat. medium high will do. Once your oil is hot, add your onion, carrot and jalapeno. Saute for a few minutes and then add your garlic. continue to saute until onion is tender, stirring frequently. (about five mins) Take and add your potatoes, and then go ahead and turn heat down to medium. give a quick stir and then  open up your 3 cans:  chickpeas, canned diced tomatoes and vegetable broth. drain and rinse your chickpeas. add to pot, along with the undrained tomatoes, and the can of vegetable broth. measure and add your spices, according to ingredient list below. give it a stir, and then let it come to just a boil. cover and reduce heat to simmer. give it 15 mins like this, or until potato is tender. while it’s cooking, prepare a box of couscous, which has the same difficulty factor as making toast. 🙂 you’ll serve your stew atop a scoop of this, it’s delish and the texture is genius.  take a nice rip of cilantro, chop and stir into stew when cooking complete. reserve a little to sprinkle over your bowl as well. Take out your plain yogurt, and stir to smooth out a bit. Once all of this is ready, take a nice shallow bowl, add a  scoop of couscous to it. Top with a generous ladle of stew. Top with a nice dollop of yogurt, and sprinkle some cilantro over all. Eyeball the gorgeous dish you are about to consume… and be proud of yourself. Not only can you make something that looks this beautiful, you can pat yourself on the back for doing something healthy.

peace and love, yo.

shopping list

large onion

yukon gold potatoes

large carrots

1 jalapeno pepper

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

28oz can diced tomatoes

15oz can vegetable broth

15oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp  ground tumeric

1/4 tsp salt

box of plain couscous

fresh cilantro

1 small container of plain  yogurt (not greek, it’s too thick)




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