Why am I just discovering farro? Have I been living under a rock? It’s such a delicious, versatile, healthy grain that I am stumped as to how it has passed me by…until now.
My vegetarian readers are likely questioning my credibility, while you carnivores are just about done reading this post. Bear with me and keep reading!
Farro is an ancient strain of wheat (therefore not for the gluten intolerants) and is particularly popular in Italy where it is beloved for its chewy texture and nutty taste. For lack of a better comparison, I would liken its consistency to Irish oatmeal (the not mushy, slightly firm variety of oats). It is sold whole (overnight soaking required), semi-pearled and pearled. Semi-pearled has been my form of choice as its quick cooking (no soaking) but still rich in fiber, protein, magnesium and B vitamins. Many of these nutrients are lost in the pearling process, making the pearled variety the least desirable.
The first time I made farro, I just cooked it in water (1 cup of faro to 2 cups water) and mixed the cooked grain with chopped tomatoes, sweet onion, parsley and lemon zest. I finished the dish with a vinaigrette of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The resulting dish was similar to a tabouli–summery fresh, but in my opinion, so much better than a traditional bulgur based salad.
The second time I experimented was sort of out of desperation. I wanted to make Cookie + Kate’s Curried Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Cauliflower. Once I get a recipe in my head, there’s almost nothing I won’t do to produce it other than make an unplanned trip to the supermarket. So while some may be discouraged to find only 1/2 cup quinoa in their pantry and no cauliflower in their fridge, I decided to tweak the recipe more than a bit to create Curried Coconut Farro with Roasted Broccoli. My limited farro experience left me uncertain as to whether this would be successful but with Gary as my willing guinea pig and some Lemon Chicken in the oven, I bravely gave it a whirl.
It would be an understatement to say that I’m happy I experimented because this could be my new favorite dish. Gary and I both enjoyed the interesting flavor combinations and chewy texture of the farro. I devoured the leftovers the following day in typical Sly Rooster fashion–with a poached egg. Now I am unsure as to whether I prefer the dish with the egg or without, but you can be sure that both variations will be in my regular rotation.
So, pick up some farro and take a walk on the exotic side with this warm, healthy vegetarian supper. And if you are a little unsure, plan to serve it as your side dish but don’t be surprised if it takes over your plate and become your main course.
- 2 small heads of broccoli (or 1 medium head), cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 Tbls plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- kosher salt
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 can (14 oz) light coconut milk
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed in a fine mesh colander
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbls cider vinegar
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 2 scallions chopped, garnish
- sprinkle of red pepper flakes, optional
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss the broccoli florets with 2 Tbls oil, cayenne pepper and a light sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack, turning halfway, until the broccoli is tender and browned on the edges.
- In a large pot, warm 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is turning translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, curry powder and cardamom and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk, water, farro and raisins. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Then remove the pot from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Stir the salt, vinegar and arugula into the farro. Divide the farro into bowls and top with roasted broccoli. Garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes if you’d like. Enjoy!