Have you had farro yet? It’s another one of those grains that, in the past decade or so, have become the darlings of the culinary world. Here are a few quotes from a New York Times article
“Because farro contains a starch similar to that found in Arborio rice, it behaves much like risotto, releasing a creamy, binding liquid when cooked. But unlike risotto, farro doesn’t become gummy; instead, it retains its tender, distinct bite, even if it sits awhile after cooking. Farro is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E. It grows best in barren, high-altitude terrain and is almost always grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Because it is so easily digested and so low in gluten, farro can often be eaten by people who are normally gluten-intolerant. According to the department of plant genetics at the University of Florence, farro is an ancient, unhybridized grain used for thousands of years in North Africa and the Middle East, where farro kernels have been found in Egyptian tombs. During the height of the Roman Empire, farro was used as a primary food and probably even as money. True farro is Triticum dicoccum, an unhybridized wheatlike plant that has two spikes and is in the wheat family.”
Italy is the major producer of farro today.
Since I’ve already had farro served risotto-style made by my son-in-law, I already knew how delicious it can be. This is the kind of comforting dish that is perfect for the winter months.
As you will see, it is prepared in a very similar fashion to risotto also. This makes a wonderful compliment to many meat or poultry dishes. I was asked for the recipe when I served it – it is delicious!
Creamy Farro with Crispy Shiitakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 cup farro (I was able to find the Roland brand at my local store)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics brand)
12 ounces wild mushrooms, such as shiitake or oyster, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices (I used all Shiitake mushrooms)
1 bunch spinach (10 ounces), stemmed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add farro, stirring until toasted, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender and creamy, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and red-pepper flakes. Roast, stirring once, until crisp and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Warm farro over medium heat and add spinach, stirring until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and Parmesan. Pass additional Parmesan at the table.