Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

TIP Be sure to use pearled farro. Unpearled farro requires overnight soaking and 40 minutes cooking time.



1 cup pearled farro

2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

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2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped red onion

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 cup chopped assorted dried fruit

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup orange juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped sage

1. Combine the farro and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer until the farro is tender (but still somewhat chewy) and the water absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes.

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2. Meanwhile, heat oil in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring, until onions are somewhat softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add dried fruit and balsamic and cook until vinegar is nearly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add orange juice and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the liquid is thickened, about 4 minutes.

3. Toss the farro with the fruit mixture and sage and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 196 calories, 3 g fat, .3 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 117 mg sodium



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4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

3 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 cup pearl barley

1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan; immediately reduce heat to low and keep warm.

2.Cook the bacon in a large saucepan; remove from the pot, drain on paper towel and chop coarsely when cool.

3.Add the garlic, onion and thyme to the bacon drippings and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Pour in 3 cups of the warmed broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the liquid is nearly absorbed and the barley nearly tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach and remaining 1 cup of broth and cook until the barley is tender, about 10 more minutes.

4.Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped bacon and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 243 calories, 8 g fat, 3.1 g saturated fat, 10 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 279 mg sodium



1 cup quinoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 plum tomatoes, diced

1 medium cucumber, diced

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions.

2. Combine the salt and lemon juice in a medium-size bowl; whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the quinoa, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and mint. Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 179 calories, 9 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 200 mg sodium