The Chef’s Take — Jeremie Tomczak’s Farro Salad with Beets and Blood Oranges at King Bee

Acadian food is the next big thing, thanks to Chef Jeremie Tomczak at New York City's King Bee.

The New York City dining scene is chock-full of options. But until King Bee opened, Acadian cuisine was not one of them. Now it's here. Acadian food, you ask? Well, it's inspired by the culinary evolution from the Acadian emigration to Louisiana. Think New Orleans country cooking meets the Pacific Northwest. It comes to the East Village in the form of a cozy little nest, decorated like a vintage cottage tucked into the mountains. A fire might as well be blazing on a hearth.

The menu by Chef Jeremie Tomczak — of Aquavit, Red Rooster Harlem and the French Culinary Institute — is hyperseasonal and much of it is sourced from partner Eben Klemm’s upstate family farm, Red Fox, in Sharon Springs, N.Y. While the menu veers toward NOLA's indulgent side in dishes like grilled oysters with cabbage and garlic butter, rabbit rillettes, Louisiana crawfish and brioche, and a Creekstone rib eye with beef vinaigrette and potato leek terrine, Tomczak is an unabashed fan of vegetables and grains.

His menu includes an impressive selection of inspired vegetarian plates: buckwheat risotto with maitake mushrooms and kale, the Upstate Raw Salad with turnips, cauliflower and sorghum, a smoky all-vegetable Gumbo, and this brightly flavored farro salad with kohlrabi, beets, blood oranges, almonds and buttermilk vinaigrette.

"A lot of the Acadian cuisine is heavy, and you can use a lot of vegetables and balance it out," he says. "It's just about respect for vegetables. It's not music if you don’t have a drummer; the guitarist isn’t everything. Vegetables, they're the drummer."

Farro Salad with Blood Oranges, Beets, Almonds, Kohlrabi and Buttermilk Vinaigrette

Serves 8
Farro:
4 cups dry farro
5 shallots, finely chopped
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Vegetable Stock:
Sachet of thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns
2 gallons of water
1 quart dried shiitakes
3 carrots
1 celery root
3 onions
2 parsley root
2 bunches leeks

**Note, this will make a lot of leftover stock, which you can freeze for later use

Beets:
4 medium sized beets (red, candy cane, white or yellow), stems on
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Buttermilk Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Garnish:
¼ cup of chopped marcona almonds
1 blood orange, cut into segments
1 cup arugula
½ cup thinly sliced kohlrabi
For the vegetable shiitake stock:

Roughly chop all vegetables and sweat in a stock pot with a generous drizzle of olive oil for about 5 minutes

Add water, shiitakes, and sachet of herbs and peppercorns.

Bring to boil, and then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

For the Beets
Cut the stems off the beets and thinly slice them, reserve

Place beets in a small roasting dish with salt and a little water. Roast until tender and cooked through.

Peel the beets and quarter them.

In a large bowl, toss the beets in the red wine vinegar to marinate, along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, saute the beet stems and set aside.

For the farro:

Cover a pot with a little olive oil and sweat the shallots over medium/high heat until soft (do not want any browning)

Add the farro to the olive oil and cooked shallots, toast for about 1 minute

Add the wine and cook until reduced.

Add enough hot vegetable stock to just cover the farro, with about 1 inch of liquid covering the grain.

When stock is reduced, continue adding more so farro is always fully covered with stock.

Repeat this step until farro is cooked through and tender.

Cool farro on a baking sheet.

For the buttermilk vinaigrette

Whisk the buttermilk, honey, vinegar, and olive oil, add salt to taste.

Plating:

In a bowl, toss the farro with the almonds, kohlrabi, beet stems, buttermilk vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste (reserve 1/4 cup of the buttermilk vinaigrette).

To plate, top the farro with blood orange slices and quartered beets.

Toss the arugula in the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk vinaigrette, and place atop salad as final garnish.

Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She's probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.

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