Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Farro: My New Favorite Grain

While browsing around The Pantry, one of my favorite local gourmet markets, I came across a package of farro. I had eaten farro a number of times, but had never cooked it myself. Farro, also known as "emmer wheat" is a hulled wheat common in Italy. What I discovered, was that it was similar to barley in texture, but nuttier and more delicious.

The day after I purchased the farro, I received an email newsletter from one of my favorite bloggers, Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks. It was as if the food planets alligned and I had a culinary "moment". Heidi's email was about none other than farro! Coincidence? Perhaps....but how do you account for the fact that all the ingredients listed in her recipe were also items I'd randomly purchased the day prior? Butternut Squash, walnuts, and goat cheese all found their way into my grocery cart before ever having seen her recipe. Paired with the red onions and fresh herbs I always keep on hand, I could make her "Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash" without having to return to the store (now THAT is a first!). You call it coincidence, I call it foodie-divine intervention!

My attempt to make "risotto" out of barley delicious, and I even included it in a "Holiday Side Dishes" class I am teaching this season. So, I figured making a similar dish with farro might yield an even bigger reaction. I was right. My Farro Risotto with Mushrooms was even better than the version with barley. Better yet, it cooks even more quickly. Give it a try!

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

Serves 4 as a side dish

5-6 cups hot low-salt chicken broth,

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup farro

3/4 lb Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced (or your favorite mushroom variety)
1 t dried thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese (optional, but totally recommended!)

In a medium sauce pan, heat chicken broth and cover to keep hot.

In a large chef's pan, saute onion in olive oil until softened. Add farro and stir to coat with oil. "Toast" the farro for a minute or two.

Add 1 cup broth, and stir. When broth is nearly absorbed, add 1/2 - 3/4 cup more broth, stir, and allow to absorb. Repeat this procedure until farro is tender to the bite (this should take about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a medium fry pan, saute mushrooms in olive oil. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until softened.

When farro is tender, add mushrooms and parsley. Stir to combine.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

1 comment:

mom said...

Tell you what -- coming here makes me HUNGRY!