Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Introduction to Farro

If you're one of those people that believes pasta is evil and to be avoided at all costs, yet miss diving into a bowl of warm, comfort filled with all sorts of textures and flavors, meet your new best friend.

Farro is a type of wheat, also called emmer, that was among the first plants to be domesticated in the Middle East. And while obviously you're not going to be able to wrap it around your fork like spaghetti (the grains are about the size of peas), it comes pretty damn close to pasta in other respects. For instance, you can put anything into it you would pasta. It's the perfect canvas, as its nutty whole grain texture is lovely with everything from vegetables to meat to cheese to nuts.

The only two drawbacks are that you have to soak it first (for a minimum of 20 minutes) and it's definitely pricier than a box of rigattoni. But again, if you're on an anti pasta kick, it's well worth it to be able to relive your Olive Garden days, sans the guilt. (And yes - I realize they make whole wheat pasta nowadays - but I'd rather eat cardboard. The texture literally makes me gag;)

Farro with Salami, Sundried Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Basil

1.1 lb farro

32 oz chicken stock
32 oz water
2 garlic cloves

12 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
3 tblspns olive oil, or to taste (you can use fresh or the oil from the artichokes if desired)
16 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and halved
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/3 cup diced Parmesan (slightly larger than pea-sized chunks)
1/4 cup diced salami (cut into about pea-sized chunks)
1 large bunch (3 handfuls) fresh basil, torn
1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt


Place the farro in a large pot or dutch oven. Cover with water and let soak for 20-30 minutes, then drain, returning to the same pot. Now add 32 ounces of chicken stock plus 32 ounces of water along with 2 garlic cloves to the pan, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to reduce down to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 25 minutes. Drain, discarding the garlic cloves, then return to the pot once more to stir in the rest of the ingredients (the artichoke hearts through the walnut pieces.) Stir in 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt, and taste before adding more (it'll depend on how salty the chicken stock was you cooked the farro in as to how much you need.)

Serve warm, in big bowls full...

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