Farro

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.
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