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Call me weird, but I adore whole grains. Brown rice, barley, quinoa, oats, barley, farro, millet — I love love love these things. Of course, I attribute my good health and well being a lot to the food I eat.
This dish highlights farro, (also called Emmer) a hulled wheat that is popular in a lot of Mediterranean countries. It’s texture is chewy and when I eat farro, it actually tastes like it is healthful – as if my body is being healed – if that is possible. And it truly contains a lot of protein, fiber, iron and minerals. You can find farro in most supermarkets today and obviously online as well. Look for the kind that says “semi pearled” or that it cooks in 30 minutes (not the fast cooking 15 minute type or longer cooking variety).
This is one of the most flavorful, easy dishes I’ve made in recent weeks. I could eat it as a stand alone main dish accompanied by greens or a hearty salad. As a side dish to simple fish or poultry, it is nothing less than perfect And silly me, who loves savory things, I have eaten this early in the day for breakfast. Now you know for certain that I am a little crazy in the head.
Stovetop farro is one-pot cooking at it’s best. Measure out the water and farro, and while you are slicing onion and cherry tomato and garlic, the farro gets a quick soak. Thirty minutes later, you are done and the farro is complete. I usually top my farro with a chiffonade of fresh basil and a bit of high quality, fresh grated Parmesan cheese but it is also good as is. This farro dish almost tastes like risotto – it is so creamy and flavorful, and the onion and tomato makes a creamy stock. . It reheats beautifully and keeps for a few days in the fridge.
Anytime Vegetarian Stovetop Farro
Serves: 6 – adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro (Bob’s Red Mill is one of my favorites)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ large white onion, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes (you can add more or less to taste depending on the level of spiciness you desire)
- 2 Tbsp basil leaves, cut into chiffonade for serving
- ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Place water and farro in a medium saucepan to pre-soak while you are cutting up the tomato and onion. Add olive oil to the pot.
Wash and cut the tomatoes in half and add to the pot.
Take the peeled half onion, cut the onion in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Thinly slice the garlic. Add both of these to the pot.
Add the salt and red pepper flakes (to taste) to the saucepan. Cook all the way UNcovered for 30 minutes by bringing the pot to a boil, then turning the heat down to simmer. Gently stir the farro every 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, taste the farro – it should be chewy but tender and most of the liquid should be absorbed. I usually take the pot off the heat and leave it alone for 5-10 minutes or so while the rest of the liquid absorbs.
I put the farro into a pretty bowl, top with sliced basil and dust with parmesan. Serve. Reheat leftovers tomorrow! I usually make a double-batch because it disappears quickly.
PS: I am thinking of adding some tiny cubes of oven-roasted butternut squash right before serving just to make it pretty and because I have often have some on hand in the winter.