Farro Facts and a Recipe

Whole Grains Month may be over but those of us here at Oldways and the Whole Grains Council are always in search of new and exciting recipes to test out on each other and our loved ones. So when Georgia was nice enough to bring in a bag of farro (since I had never cooked it myself) I was on a mission for a new recipe to get cooking!

BUT before I let myself start this newest culinary quest I wanted to get a bit of history on this ancient grain. So I turned to the WGC website to read up before I got to chow down. Here is what I learned about farro:

--First, the other name for Farro is Emmer.

--Emmer is an ancient strain of wheat and was one of the first cereals ever domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, and centuries later it served as the standard daily ration of the Roman legions. Over the centuries, emmer was gradually abandoned in favor of durum wheat, which is easier to hull.

--By the beginning of the 20th century, higher-yielding wheat strains had replaced emmer almost everywhere, except in Ethiopia, where emmer still constitutes about 7% of the wheat grown.

--In Italy – and increasingly throughout the world – emmer is known as farro or grano farro and is staging a comeback as a gourmet specialty. Semolina flour made from emmer is still used today for special soups and other dishes in Tuscany and Umbria, and farro is thought by some aficionados to make the best pasta.  There are many more fun facts but you can head on over to the WGC website to learn more.

Once I got back to browsing the web I  searched for recipes that would whet my appetite and inspire me. As we know, there is never a shortage to choose from but my first choice included one of my favorite ingredients, mushrooms!  I am in love with mushrooms, with their earthy flavors and variety of textures. I cannot get enough of them so, needless to say, this farro salad with roasted mushroom recipe was the ultimate option.

I did waver from the original recipe a bit, adding a few inspirations from the many other recipes I read. My final ingredients and directions (below) resulted in a rich and delicious dinner we truly enjoyed.  And I can say that I can’t wait until my next Farro foray!

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked farro (I used semi-perlato to cut down on cook time)
Salt
1/2 pound wild mushrooms (use a mix of your favorites I chose some shitakes from the local farmers market and used closer to 1 pound)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium diced shallot
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup crumbled parmesan

Directions:
1.  
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly rinse farro in a strainer.  Drain well and return the farro to the pan with 2 cups of water. Sprinkle with salt and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the farro is tender but still has a little bite.

2.  While the farro is cooking, wipe and trim the mushrooms and cut into bite-sized pieces. Arrange them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently. Spread the mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crisp around the edges and cooked through.

3.  When the farro is cooked, drain it well and spread it on a clean baking sheet to cool. Do the same with the mushrooms once they are cooked.

4.  While the farro and mushrooms are cooling sauté shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for approx. 5 minutes until tender and slightly browned.

5.  When the farro, shallots and mushrooms are close to room temperature, or just barely warm, combine them in a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing gently to combine. Then add the parmesan, parsley and a generous grinding of pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

*We enjoyed this dish served over a bed of mixed greens.

--Rachel

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