Slow cooker farro, kale, and butternut stew

Another quickie post from me...because we're in England! Felix successfully wowed a planeful of passengers on his first international flight. He cooed, waved, flirted and nursed. Didn't sleep as much as we expected, but that was ok as long as he was happy. So in a nutshell, the journey was brilliant. Adjusting to the new time zone, another story...though I will say four nights in he seemed to flip a switch and settled into his home routines and long nighttime stretches, so all-in-all we got off easy getting here. But back to the point. Here's another simple, one-pot, throw into the slow cooker whatever you've got recipe, currently my very favorite kind. I love hearty meals like that, easy and satisfying, adaptable and forgiving, a rainbow of produce in a steamy bowl.  The name's not overly intriguing I know, and it's really slow cooker farro, kale, butternut and bean stew. But where does the ingredient-listing end? It was getting too long. Sorry, beans. I figured you'd be ok with the omission, because you're cool.


If you do gluten, farro is a pretty great grain. I love the chewy, robust nuttiness of it. There are some pretty great health perks, too. From Rachel Ray, you get: about 8 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber (brown rice weighs in at around 5 grams); minerals like magnesium, which may relieve tension and menstrual cramps; cyanogenic glucosides, a type of carb that may boost the immune system. If, however, gluten is out, barley makes a great substitute. Or even leave out the grain altogether. All the more room for vegetables.

We've been eating "mostly vegan" for closing in on two months now, and are feeling "mostly great". Actually, flexitarian is probably a more accurate label, if indeed we must have a label. You can't really call yourself "mostly vegan" when you regularly eat eggs.  And fish. And...well who likes being boxed in, anyway? Truth be told, we eat a bit of everything, but are making concerted efforts to prioritize being plant-based, low sugar/natural sugar, and as free from processed foods as possible. Dave is training for the Leadville 100, and I'm shooting for some post pregnancy endurance challenges like a 50K, the Mt. Evans Ascent, and a 50-miler. I have concerns about calcium and protein, but we're continuously awed by the growing body of research supporting plant-based diets, including for athletes, and have awe-inspiring ultra examples like Scott Jurek and Rich Roll. Dave won't be packing up Allen Lim style foil packets of this or any other recent slow cooker meals up Hope Pass come August, but they are so far going a long way in fueling up and recovering from training.

Are you on, planning, revising or even regretting a similar journey in food? Stories and recipes--let's share!

Slow cooker farro, kale, and butternut stew serves 4-6

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch kale, torn with ribs removed
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 15-ounce can
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight and rinsed/drained
  • 1 cup farro
  • *whatever additional vegetables you want, adding extra liquid as needed
  1. Place all ingredients in a 6-quart slow-cooker and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours.