Ode to Farro

A Warm, Grainy Salad

What’s warm, chewy, sweet, with a peppery kick and a bit of creaminess? This SALAD, that’s what!

I seriously have a love affair with this dish. It’s the perfect melding of flavors.

While I sigh at thought of winter squashes packing up and leaving as the season ends, I have much excitement (like the first lick of gelato in Italy, oooh myyy goood!) about the next crop of seasonal fruits and veggies that will take over my culinary craziness (which by the way how excited are we for strawberries?).

(CLICK HERE for a fabulous resource for finding what’s in season in your state!) .

Today’s recipe was inspired by my first dining experience at a favorite spot in the West Village, NYC called Morandi. Never had I consumed spelt or farro before (they are NOT one in the same) and the version of a spelt salad they produced won me over in one bite.

I immediately came home, did a little research and sought out both spelt and farro. During my research I had stumbled upon some recipes, but in the end I just went with my gut, (cause it has good instinct). Oh and the memory of what flavors were mingling about made it pretty simple. I forgot the mushrooms though (next time!).

Farro

Ingredient Highlight:

Farro is NOT Spelt and Spelt is NOT Farro. If you saw my post on Sexy Spelt Parfait I redirected you to Lorna Sass’s blog on WHY you should know the difference!

Moving along, Farro is another ancient grain (ancient meaning it’s been around for a LOOOONG time and hasn’t been messed with via processing).  It’s predominately used in Mediterranean countries such as Italy where it might be accompanied by tomatoes and cheese. Sigh. Can I go back now? Anyway, it has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, similar to barley but heartier in my opinion. Since it has a pretty neutral flavor you can really go bananas tossing in different veggies (wait, why not bananas?).

Buying/Storage: Most likely a whole foods or health food store will have this grain. I have had no luck finding it at a Stop and Shop. Grains will go rancid within three to six months, so only buy what you need. If you’re going to use them within a few weeks, store them at room temperature; otherwise, seal them tightly and refrigerate or freeze (Source: www.chow.com) Click HERE for a whole grain 101.

RECIPE

Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Serves: (at least 4-1 cup servings/MANY, how’s that?)

Time: 10-20 mins for farro to soak, 20-30 mins cook time for both farro and squash (separately but at the same time)

Pre-Prep:

  • Peel, gut and cube butternut squash OR sweet potatoes.
  • Soak farro in pot of cold water for up to 20 minutes, drain, set aside.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Farro, uncooked (soaked and drained-see pre-prep)
  • 1-2 quarts water (enough to cook farro in, water should cover farro and then some)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed (buy pre-chopped/peeled if you must)
  • 1-2 handfuls arugula
  • Balsamic glaze (Click here to make your own-great and entertaining chef!) or balsamic vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Gooood stufff!)
  • 1/4 cup Toasted walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts (optional, I know there are nut allergies out there)
  • crumbled goat cheese (to taste)
  • pepper to taste

Methods:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take cubes of squash and place them on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh black pepper. Place 4 garlic cloes (wrapping in tact) alongside the squash. Place in oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes until you can sort of jam a fork in it and it’s soft.

Cut the squash! I love my Global knives!

Roasted and Ready to MINGLE! Two tiers cause I used the second batch elsewhere.

2. Remove squash and garlic cloves (smash it up or chop the garlic it if you like) from the oven and set aside.

3. Place the nuts (1/4 cup or however much you like) on a cookie sheet and toast for 8 minutes in oven, remove and set aside.

Toasty Nutty Goodness

Meanwhile:

1. While squash is roasting, take pre-soaked farro and add to a pot of water for boiling. Boil for 20 minutes and drain.

Don't forget to DRAIN it!

2. Place Farro in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil so as to avoid drying out. Farro likes to soak up the oil so don’t get greedy but drizzle at least a tablespoon or so and mix it all up. The fragrance of olive oil being incorporated into the warm farro is beyond comforting!

A MERGING of favorites!

3. Join the roasted squash, garlic, few handfuls of arugula, and toasted pecans with the Farro and toss. Add balsamic glaze to marry the flavors (this is so individual, I like a lot of balsamic flavor).

4. Top with goat cheese or just toss it in, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper taste. Pour over a bed of arugula or other greens! SERVE!

I've gone gaga over this grain!

Chefs Tips:

  • This is honestly a meal in itself as far as I’m concerned. I thought of even serving it with a poached egg on top for a little extra protein (actually I’m gonna do that!)
  • You can absolutely PLAY with the ingredients here and make it your own. I am aware that not everyone has access too or wants to seek out farro, so use another grain instead, quinoa is just as good a substitute and more readily available to some.
  • Eat it cold the next day or warm it back up.

You might also salivate over:

Chai infused Quinoa

Kamut with Apple Compote

Bananas Foster Flavored Oats

Spelt + Spiked Berries = Sexy breakfast

ENJOY!

-Jen

Have you had Farro or Spelt?

Do you have a favorite warm grainy salad?