Schermer at Home: Yasmin Fahr of Keep It Simple

Schermer at Home: Yasmin Fahr of Keep It Simple

Schermer at Home: Yasmin Fahr, Keep It Simple (New York, NY)
By Stephanie Burt

Recipe developer and cookbook author Yasmin Fahr’s childhood was always filled with food, and so it was simply something she learned that was an expression of love. But being able to cook for yourself and your family that takes that idea even further, she says. 

“Food has been part of my self-care,” Yasmin explains. “Cooking your own meal [as opposed to eating out or getting takeout] and knowing what goes into it makes you feel good.” 

She knows her way around a healthy(ish) recipe, having written for a variety of publications, from The Kitchn to Serious Eats to Food & Wine and The Washington Post, but it was her cookbook, Keeping It Simple, that brought her into many of America’s kitchens when it was named one of the Spring 2020 cookbook picks by The New York Times

She credits part of her success in developing recipes to something that might at first seem counterintuitive -- the fact that she didn’t go to culinary school. “But I remember what it was like when I didn’t know what or how to cook,” she says, and that’s what helps her keep the new cook in mind. 

Speaking of new things to try in the kitchen, she suggests learning how to make homemade dressing can really turn your home salad from blah to main-dish stars. For the Farro Salad mentioned below, she developed a warm salad that reminded her of the bright, fresh flavors on cafe tables during her time living in Paris, with the crunch of nuts to add protein and a little texture to the otherwise soft salad. But she’s quick to add that the mustard that makes this dressing so tangy is also the secret to its success. 

“Mustard is a great emulsifier, so this dressing is very easy to make and doesn’t break. When you whisk it, it will look like a creamy egg yolk color when it’s ready, and it will bind together and stay beautiful creamy.” And if you mix it in the bottom of the serving bowl, you’ll keep all that goodness for the salad and save yourself from washing an extra bowl later. 

Warm Farro Salad
from Keep it Simple: Easy Weeknight One-Pot Recipes by Yasmin Fahr, Hardie Grant Books, 2020. 

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

9 oz. asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

½ tsp. dried red chili flakes, or more as desired

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 c. farro

4 c. low-salt vegetable stock or water

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 c. fresh or frozen peas

10 ½ oz. curly kale, cavolo nero (lacinato kale) or other leafy green, leaves removed from the stems, cut into 2-inch ribbons (about 3 cups)

¼ c. pecans, toasted

4 spring onions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only

½ c. crumbled feta (preferably Bulgarian)

½ c. fresh cilantro or parsley leaves and fine stems, roughly chopped

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch frying pan over a medium heat until shimmering. Add most of the asparagus (reserving a small amount), chili flakes, salt and pepper. Then cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Set aside in a small bowl.
  2. In the same skillet without wiping it out, add the farro, stock and a generous amount of salt, cover and raise the heat to bring to an active boil, then lower the heat to maintain an active simmer. Cook, keeping it covered, until the farro is tender and not chewy, about 30 minutes (add water if necessary to keep the farro covered). Check on it every 10 minutes or so to make sure it’s simmering and nothing is sticking to the bottom. 
  3. While the farro is cooking, in a serving bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Drain the farro and transfer to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine, then stir in peas, cooked and raw asparagus and kale. Let stand until peas are tender and kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Mix in pecans, spring onions, feta and cilantro. Season as needed. 

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