Farro is a native Italian grain that you should absolutely have in your pantry. Think barley’s big brother-each grain is a bit larger and a bit more toothsome, much like spelt or a wheat berry. The brand I buy is the Bartolini Farro-it always cooks perfectly and I’m finding it in more and more markets these days. When we’re all trying to eat more whole grains, it’s a must to keep a few kinds on hands for soups, stews, and side dishes.
Tonight I used a basic risotto technique to cook my farro-farrotto. I began by par-boiling the grain for 15 minutes which helps it absorb stock and cook more quickly. After draining it, I tossed it with a drizzle of good olive oil and set it aside for a few hours (always prepping ahead!). When it came time for dinner, I sauteed some minced garlic in olive oil over medium low heat, just until fragrant. I tossed in a pint of halved cherry tomatoes (come summer this will be mixed colors of heirlooms). A quick stir and in went 2 cups of the farro. I made sure to mix it enough so that each grain was coated with olive oil (and a good pinch of salt and pepper). In another pot I heated 3-4 cups of chicken stock (veggie broth would work well too). Just like risotto, I added the warm stock, 1 ladleful at a time, until the farro absorbed all the liquid. About 20 minutes later, the farro was perfectly al dente and had absorbed all my ladles of stock. It was tender with just a bit of a bite. I folded in about 1/4 cup of fresh pesto and a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
The result was delicious. My son loved it, my guests loved it, and I loved it. Look for farro at your market and let me know what you do with it. I’m sure it’ll become a new favorite, if it isn’t already.