Meet My New Friend, Farro

DSC01486Along 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.

DSC01502What 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.

DSC02019Farro 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.

Farro SaladFarro Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Arugula, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

Serves 4

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

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

DSC02067Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Set aside.

DSC02071Rinse 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.

DSC02058Prepare ingredients.

DSC02078Mix in sun-dried tomatoes, spinach/lamb’s lettuce and arugula. Toss in the rest of the vinaigrette. Season to taste.

DSC02100Top with goat cheese and walnuts. I served this with rice cakes with quinoa because I like things crunchy as a side. I think this would be great to pair with salmon or trout for dinner too.

Buon Appetito!

Farro with Roasted VegFarro with Roasted Vegetables

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Serves 4

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
olive oil
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

DSC01843Rinse farro 2 – 3 times. In a pot, add farro, water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover. Simmer until al dente, about 15 – 20 minutes. Test for doneness. Drain & set aside.

DSC01836Place 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.

DSC01850When cool enough to touch, chop into small bite size pieces.

DSC01855Toss with farro. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, reserved fronds and lemon juice. Adjust seasonings.

DSC01915With Italy in mind, top with shaved Parm for fun.

Here’s to a healthier you. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Meet My New Friend, Farro

  1. Those are great ideas! I think I tried balsamic on strawberries and maybe with a watermelon, red onion, mint and feta cheese salad but I haven’t tried it on apples or grapefruit. How interesting! Will give it a try. Thanks for always stretching the boundaries. Love all your tips!

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  2. hi Vern, fabulous write up and colourful photos. I love farro and use it instead of rice. I even use it for I my rice and peas when i make carribean food. I can smell the aroma of your roasted veges and as well the the balsamic vinegar. Have you tried drizzling balsamic vinegard in sliced apples, strawberries and grapefruit? try it it’s amazing burst of flavor combined with the fruits. yummmmmmm.

    Keep on inspiring your readers

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  3. I LOVE Farro! I’ve always loved barley so it’s no surprise I guess. I am going to try both your recipes. I’ve also had farro mixed into a pasta dish. The intention was to lighten up the calories. Today, and yesterday, quinoa is my grain….trying to get back on track in preparation for spring! UGH

    Liked by 1 person

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