Along the edge of the city, was a peculiar looking bakery, studded by graffiti. It wasn’t particularly inviting but we couldn’t resist. On the first evening we tried a mini seashell shaped pastry called Sfogliatella. Delicate crisp layers with a chocolate center proved to be delicious! In the morning, we returned to try two-bite Nutella tartlets topped with chopped pistachios and grated coconut. Divine! At Campo de’ Fiori, I enjoyed my first caffè d’orzo. It’s like an espresso but without caffeine and made from roasted barley. Deep & robust! Other than that, what I craved most were salads…in Rome. Can you believe it? What was I thinking!?! Perhaps it had something to do with the fresh produce like the lush purple artichokes.
What I really wanted to try was Farro. We scouted restaurants along the piazzas but couldn’t find it on menus or at markets. However, Pomodoro Pachino, sweet and salty sun-dried tomatoes from Sicily, were abundant and a lil’ packet came home with us. And as luck would have it, a supermarket appeared before us and there it was. Farro was calling my name.
Farro is an ancient grain from Italy that is becoming popular in the West. Maybe you already know about it (in which case, why am I always the last to know?). It can replace barley because of similar characteristics but can stand in for rice or quinoa in a soup or salad. It’s rich in fiber, protein, iron and Vitamins A, B, C and E. It also contains magnesium which is known to relieve tension. More importantly, it’s a complex carbohydrate, helping you feel full longer.
True Farro needs soaking overnight. Semi-pearl Farro may only need a few minutes of soaking. After trying two new dishes, I noticed soaking was not required and cooking the farro for about 18 minutes, to al dente, was fine. Just know which kind you’re working with before you start. If possible, follow package directions. When cooked right, it’s quite nutty with a chewy texture. For me, it’s simply a nice healthy change from rice.
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck
1 cup farro
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), sliced thinly
1 cup spinach or lamb’s lettuce, sliced thinly (I used lamb’s lettuce because that is what I had)
1 cup arugula, chopped roughly
1/4 cup or 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Rinse farro with water 2 – 3 times. Bring pot of water, farro and salt to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until al dente. Drain and transfer to bowl. Sprinkle half the vinaigrette over and allow to cool slightly.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 1/4 cups farro
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, peeled, cut length wise and cut in quarters (see photo)
1 zucchini, cut length wise and cut in quarters
1 eggplant, cut in large cubes
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and cut in quarters, reserve fronds for garnish if you like
1 yellow pepper, cut in large cubes
1 red pepper, cut in large cubes (I used mini peppers because that is what I had)
1 red/yellow onion, cut in quarters
3 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole
salt & pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
a mix of fresh herbs like parsley, basil, mint (I used parsley because that is what I had)
juice from 1/2 lemon or to taste
Place all the veg on a tray and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Make sure the vegetables are not overlapping so they roast, not steam. (I realize after I should have cut the stalks from the fennel. It’s just the bulb you’ll use.) Roast in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C for 25 – 35 minutes. Toss and turn every 10 minutes, until crisp around the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle balsamic vinegar.
Here’s to a healthier you. Enjoy!