Before I share this recipe I will use the same disclaimer that I use on Made with Love – A Tribute to my Parents. I cook by taste, texture, feel and smell and don’t pay a lot of attention to measurements. Call it Italian, call it crazy, call it instinct, call it what you will, all I know it things don’t usually come out too bad and the great thing is if you go a bit light in the beginning if you are not sure, you can always adjust. Having said that I am going to do my best to give you some guidelines to go by in the way of measurements as a place to start. Have fun, don’t worry about making it perfect, taste it along with way, use your instincts and adjust as to your taste.
Farro is a relatively new discovery for me and ever since has been a mainstay on our family menu. This wonderful grain is a very hearty one and was a mainstay of the daily diet ancient Roma. Not sure why it has taken me so long to add it to our table, but now that we have, it is here to stay! Farro has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It kind of reminds me of pastina, without the starch! Where you do find it, usually in the market where you would find rice and other grains.
Follow the basic instructions on the package. You can cook it directly after washing it a few times and even letting it soak briefly or you can pre-soak it overnight for a shorter cooking time. I usually rinse it three or four times and then let it soak for about 10 – 15 minutes while I gather the other ingredients that I am going to mix it with.
2 Cups of farro
6 cups water
Sea salt and/or Himalayan salt to season the water
3 -4 scallions, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced into small rings or quartered
½ small to medium red onion, diced
½ red, yellow or orange bell pepper, remove seeds and stems and dice the ½ of the pepper
10 – 15 pitted Kalamata olives cut in half
Small bunch of parsley, chopped (about ½ cup)
Small bunch of chives, snipped (about ¼ cup)
½ cup olive oil *
½ balsamic vinegar *
Sea salt and/or Himalayan salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a saucepan combine the 6 cups of water with the farro and about a tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil careful to not let the water overflow. Once the water comes to a boil, cover and simmer over medium to low heat. The farro should be close to tender after 15 – 20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the farro, you don’t want it mushy it should be tender and al dente “chewy” like pasta. Remove from heat, drain well and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
In another bowl combine the scallions, bell pepper, red onion, tomato, parsley, chives and olives. Let the farro cool down until it is warm and then toss the other ingredients into the bowl with the farro. When these ingredients marry it will be a fragrant symphony for the senses. And it gets better! Combine the balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl, whisk together and pour over the farro, veggie, and herb mixture. Toss well and add salt and pepper to taste. * you may have to adjust the amount of balsamic and olive oil, if the mixture is too dry and you are not getting the flavor of the dressing, adjust by adding a little more directly to mixture. Enjoy!!
VARIATIONS: There are as many variations as you can think of….. I have also used the same recipe above adding both red and yellow bell pepper and a couple of tablespoons of tabbouleh from our local Mediterranean bakery. Another variation would be to omit the red onion, tomato and bell pepper and instead add a peeled, cored and diced green apple, handful of dried cranberries and walnuts, a tablespoon of orange zest and about a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. For this I would use a dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil and either raw honey or maple syrup. …… I tend to stay away from adding cheese, I love cheese but prefer to save cheeses for salads, pizza or omelets but you could also add a small amount of cheese like crumbled feta or goat cheese or grated parmesan or my family favorite pecorino Romano……. the possibilities are endless.
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