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 ½ 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 ½ 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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