January 9, 2013

I want to tell you what the forests
were like
I will have to speak
in a forgotten language
-W.S. Merwin

farro salad | Blue Jean Gourmet

I want to tell stories. I want to talk about what is lost when the storytellers leave us, even if their stories remain.

I want more words. I want a word for the feeling that fills my chest when I lean over to kiss my sleeping baby in his crib, before I go to sleep myself at night. I want a word to call my friends for whom “friend” sounds a cheap and flimsy wrapping given what they know of me, what they’ve witnessed, what they have vigiled at my side.

I want my students to come alive. I want them to unabashedly give a damn. I want them to know that I see them, that I can see under their fourteen year old skins, straight through the girls’ ponytails piled impossibly high and the boys’ hair tousled just so, right into the heart of who they are, who they are trying to be, and they are so beautiful, even when they are being complete and total pains in the ass.

I want to say it forever, all of the time, to everyone; I am here. You are here. This is all that there is.

I want to write more letters. And a play someday, too.

I want to speak about the good work being done in the world, like the juvenile court judge we know who changed his court hours to remain open late on Tuesday nights so that the kids won’t have to miss school to come to court.

I want to carry the sharp-edged knowledge of what constitutes “real” that I felt in the weeks following my father’s death and during the daze containing Jill’s rounds of chemotherapy, around with me in a jar, like a potion or an essential oil.

I want to point out that breathtaking acts of love and compassion happen all around us, all of the time.

I want to speak about how these things are connected: the happiness of friends with new lovers, the fear of friends with secrets, the way good changes can still leave you mourning what was lost, and the strange shape of what’s left over when you discover a part of yourself you had no idea was there.

I want to tell the truth. I don’t want to be afraid.

farro salad | Blue Jean Gourmet

The name of this salad came off of a little recipe card that accompanied a gift of farro that my friend Courtney brought me from the Eugene, Oregon Farmers Market. According to her, the two delightful older ladies who sold the farro were very insistent that Courtney also take some recipe cards along “for your friend.”  One of those recipes was for a version of this very virtuous, filling, and tasty salad, which I (the aforementioned “friend”) have adapted. And so, my thanks goes out to the Farmers Market ladies of Eugene for their insistence and the inspiration.

There are certainly many variations to be had here: substitute red onion for the green, throw in handfuls of fresh herbs, use black beans instead of soybeans, etc.  The recipe makes a large amount, but the good news is that it gets better as it sits in the fridge for a few days.  The dressing recipe was inspired by my lovely friend Jess over at Sweet Amandine.

for the salad:

1 cup farro (rinsed & cooked)
1 cup quinoa (rinsed & cooked)
2 cups shelled soybeans (I used frozen & steamed according to the package)
2 cups cubed & roasted sweet potato
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ sliced or chopped almonds
1 bunch green onion, sliced into thin rounds

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.  When ready to serve, portion individual servings into bowls and drizzle with dressing.

for the dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
2 T pomegranate molasses
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.  Taste and adjust, adding salt and pepper at the end.




  1. Beautiful post. Just beautiful. And the recipe looks good too! Thank you for your inspiring words. I needed to read them just now.

    Comment by Lisa Brooks — January 9, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  2. This looks delicious, Nishta! I can’t wait to try it.

    Comment by Martha — January 9, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  3. dear nishta,
    i have been following your blog for a while now. and i love food. and poetry. to find both and your words, also poetry, here today, makes my day. thank you so much. best from faraway berlin,anja

    Comment by anja — January 11, 2013 @ 7:02 am

  4. Lisa–thank you for saying so. gratifying to hear that my words resonated.

    Martha–let me know how it turns out! I’m betting you will improvise and end up improving it 🙂

    anja–you, in turn, have made my day. thank you very much.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — January 11, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  5. I knew you were of my tribe. This post confirms it. I need some time in your presence. Maybe we’ll let Jill and Shiv tg along.

    Comment by Michael — January 12, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

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