I just discovered this grain a few months ago at one of the most amazing restaurants I've ever been: Frasca in Boulder, CO. My roommate's mother said she cooks with it all the time so I figured I had to give it a shot. This grain will take your typical side-dish to a whole new level in terms of taste, texture and nutritional value. Farro is an ancient grain very high in protein and also a great source of fiber and iron. It's often referred to as a "power grain", right next to Quinoa. The texture is a bit chewy and it soaks in all the wonderful flavors added. You can cook in water, but I prefer broth or stock. Chicken stock would work well, although I used the Vegetable Stock I made the other day.
-1 cup Farro (can be found at Whole Food either packaged or in bulk)
-3 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth/stock or water)
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-salt and pepper
-1/2 white onion
-4 whole carrots
-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
-1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
First, slice the onion half into wedges, peel and chop the 4 carrots into 1-inch pieces and slice the 4 cloves of garlic. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper.
Roast the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet for 45 minutes at 400 degrees or until the carrots are cooked through....stick with a fork and make sure they're soft. I actually roasted mine around a Cornish game hen that I served with the farro. I threw a few sage leaves on top (optional).
While the vegetables are roasting cook your farro. First, rinse the farro in a mesh strainer or sieve.
"Pearled" Farro means the outer husks are removed and therefore makes the cooking time much less (15-20 minutes). Most farro you find in your grocery store will be pearled although it may be worth asking. If it is not, you should soak overnight and may take up to an hour to cook in the liquid...requiring additional liquid.
Add the grains and broth (or water) to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil for 15-20 minutes until the grain is "al dente". I cooked mine on the longer side to make it a bit more "chewy". If there is still liquid, strain it and return to the pan.
Add the roasted vegetables, 1/8 cup Parmesan and about 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar to the pot with the cooked farro. Toss until evenly coated and serve warm!
I think this is a fabulous side dish to fish or roasted chicken. Here are a few main dishes that would go well with the farro:
Smoky Roasted Cornish Game Hen (coming soon!)