Saturday, January 9, 2010

Farro with Pesto Veggie Medley and Citrusy Spanish Mackerel

This is so damn satisfying and filling and luscious that I wouldn't believe it was so healthful unless I had watched my own two hands put it together. I had to bite my tongue before dinner to refrain from telling my husband how ridiculously good for you farro is, knowing that it would automatically lose points.

But when he took his first bite - I knew I was in the clear. "Add it to the blog," he said. My favorite five words in the whole world... Farro is easy to prepare (kind of like long cooking oatmeal) and very forgiving, provided you've had time to soak it in plain water for at least 30 minutes before you begin cooking it (I've left it up to 3 hours no problem.) And if you get your fish in the oven after your farro's already done - don't stress. Just put the lid on it and it should stay warm until the fish is ready.

One more note - Spanish Mackerel is my new favorite fish. Not too meaty like swordfish or too flaky/wimpy like tilapia. Just a nice, solid whitefish that takes on the flavor of citrus as eagerly as the Junior League takes on a cocktail party.

Farro with Pesto Veggie Medley and Citrusy Spanish Mackerel

1 box of Farro (usually 500 grams/1.1 pounds)
Big pot of water to soak the farro in

2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 lightly smashed garlic cloves
pinch salt

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zuchinni, cut into medium dice
2 small yellow squash, cut into medium dice
1 yellow bellow pepper, cut into medium dice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

7 oz basil pesto (small tub of store bought, found in refrigerated pasta/condiment section)
zest of 1 small orange
good squeeze of fresh orange juice- either a half an orange or entire thing - up to you
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
heaping tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
handful chopped basil

2 (1/2 pound) Spanish Mackeral fillets
drizzle olive oil
1 orange
sea salt and pepper

Soak the farro in water for 30 minutes in a large dutch oven, drain, then return to dutch oven with lid adding the 2 cups water, 2 cups chicken stock, 2 garlic cloves and pinch kosher salt. Be sure there's plenty of liquid to cover the farro and if you need more - add more water (this may vary due to the size of your dutch oven.) Bring to boil, then remove the lid and stir. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 25 minutes with the lid off.

Preheat oven to 350. Place your fillets, skin side down, on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then give a spritz of juice from a fresh orange and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside. (It only needs 20-22 minutes so you don't want to put it in too early.)

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large nonstick skillet. Bring over medium heat, then add in your diced squash, zuchinni, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and saute until soft - usually takes about the time your farro needs to simmer - about 25 minutes. You definitely want the veggies nice and soft and beginning to turn to 'mush' when you stir with your spoon. Don't add them to the farro before this point or you'll be sad:( When they're getting pretty soft, but not quite ready, you can put your fish in the oven (you'd rather have your farro ready before your fish - it will stay warm with the lid on.)

Bake the fish for 20-22 minutes, just until the edges around the skin have begun to brown and the fish is cooked through and opaque when cut with a knife. Meanwhile, your farro should have absorbed most of the liquid by now and expanded. Drain it once again discarding whatever liquid remains along with the garlic cloves, then return it to same pot to stir in the pesto, orange zest and juice, cheese, and parsley. Add the sauteed veggies (when ready) and taste the farro for salt and pepper making adjustments if necessary, then put the lid on to keep warm until the fish is cooked.

Remove the fish from the oven and let rest for 3 minutes before gently prying the skin from the bottoms, by gently easing a spatula between the bottom and the skin, disgarding. Spoon the farro into serving bowls and lay the fish over, garnishing with chopped basil.

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