I had been looking for farro for 8 months, ever since I got Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen because she uses it in a great looking soup. I was intrigued by the grain, but for some reason–don’t make too much fun of me–it totally escaped me that it was Italian. So chances are Jungle Jim’s has it, but I was looking in the wrong places (namely the Middle Eastern aisles). Anyway, I finally found some in bulk bags at my Costco, and I have been playing with it ever since.
This stuff is fabulous. It is high in protein and fiber, and its flavor is pleasantly mild (I think I could use it anywhere I would use generic rice), which I always appreciate as it means I can match it with the strong flavors that we like so much. Its texture is chewier than rice, but in a good way.
Most of the recipes I found with farro included either mushrooms–which I did not have–or fennel–which I dislike. I saw a few recipes with sweet potato, however, which got me thinking about making a vaguely southwestern inspired farro dish. I decided to roast the sweet potatoes with balsamic vinegar and to use a smoked paprika to spice the dish up. A drizzle of Styrian pumpkinseed oil with salted, toasted pepitas and queso fresco (ok I had to settle for feta) completed the dish. We loved it.
- 2 large yams around 20 oz each, peeled and cubed
- 3 medium-large red onions thinly sliced
- 2 sweet bell peppers thinly sliced
- vegetable oil for tossing frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- balsamic vinegar
- 1 t sweet smoked paprika divided, to taste
- 6 fat cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups farro*
- approximately 1 T Styrian pumpkinseed oil
- 8 oz queso fresco to taste
- salted roasted pepitas
*My farro was pearled, which requires a much shorter cooking time. If your farro is not, you may need to start the farro before roasting the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the cooking racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite sized chunks. Toss with about 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. You want the oil and vinegar to coat the sweet potatoes, but not pool in the bottom of the bowl. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed half sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste.
Thinly slice the onion and bell pepper. Toss with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Toss with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread in a single layer in a second rimmed half sheet pan. Place both sheets in the oven. Roast for 25-35 minutes, until the vegetables are mildly charred and tender.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the farro. Begin by heating a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When it is hot, cook the garlic until fragrant and golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and boil until reduced by half. Mix in the farro. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and simmer until the farro is cooked to your liking (the longer you cook, the more tender it will be--for my pearled farro 20 minutes was enough).
Drain the farro and place in a large bowl. Add the roasted veggies and toss with another 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, or to taste. Drizzle with Styrian pumpkinseed oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss again. Garnish each individual serving with queso fresco and pepitas.
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