Fab farro

Have you discovered farro? Or, are you already a long-time fan? It seems all the rage these days, and having loved its chewy, nutty grains for years now, I feel validated as more than a healthy outlier. Though I've seen some folks dispute this (including the author of the article I link to at the end of this post), Harold McGee does not, and I respect him tremendously so will go with his assessment of farro as a member of the wheat family, specifically Emmer wheat or T. turgidum dicoccum. Farro is the Italian word for emmer, and indeed, Italy (specifically Tuscany) is where I first, or most memorably, tasted this wonderful grain which looks like a fat bit of brown rice that itself resembles a miniature pistolette. It's often served on its own, as a base for salads or as an addition to soups, but I've also enjoyed it ground and then made into pasta. Too, you may have heard of farrotto which is like a risotto made with farro rather than rice.

pearled farro

Farro, often called pearled farro, is much more expensive in the U.S. than it is in Italy so I tend to have my sister bring me a solid stash when she comes to visit from Florence (or I schlep a great deal home after a trip east). You prepare it as you would rice, barley or other grains; boiling it simply in water or broth with some salt will suffice perfectly. I believe my favorite way of enjoying it is as a base for a grain salad for then it can really shine.

Tonight, having had a green salad last night and again today for lunch with Ol (salad king of children 4 and under), I wanted a Meatless Monday dish of more substance. My pantry supply of farro still adequate, I decided to boil some while I roasted a celery root and the rest of a head of cauliflower that desperately wanted to exit the crisper drawer. As an aside, roasted celeriac and cauliflower, tossed with olive oil, salt and a bit of cinnamon, make for a fabulous snack and/or addition to pretty much anything. LOVE.

So anyway, while the veggies were roasting, I boiled the farro in vegetable broth until chewy-tender, drained it over some chopped, raw kale (the steam from the former would steam the latter) and then tossed all that with some of the veggies and some freshly crumbled feta. Meal of champions, and a healthy one to boot. I served it alongside a rather large glass (or two) of a crisp, cold albariño and felt satisfied as could be.

farro, kale, cauliflower, celery root and feta

If you want to read a bit more, this is a lovely article (though wow, 1997!!).