Anna Blume Posted November 30, 2007 Share Posted November 30, 2007 Recently, I mentioned the fact that Whole Foods now carries one-pound packages of organic emmer wheat that Montebello imports from Italy. It is just a little more than half the price of the elegant cloth sacks over at Dean & DeLuca or I Litteri, all of which are superior to the ghastly, expensive little boxes Trader Joe's sells as spelt since its product is mixed with dehydrated vegetable bits and salty bouillon powder. Balducci might be another place to find the grain. In the summer, farro is great mixed in salads with tomato, mozzarella, basil and a fruity olive oil. At this time of year, toss it instead with lightly roasted radicchio leaves, toasted walnuts, slivers of pear and shaved Parmesan. Make farrotto instead of risotto, or my favorite, soup. There must be an earnest soul out there who's stirred up a farro pudding to serve with prune compote and flaxseed cookies. As sold in the United States, farro is in danger of becoming trite. Let's hope not. Unlike the hard red wheat berries found in bulk in natural foods stores, it cooks rapidly without requiring pre-soaking. For this reason alone, I find barley to be a far better substitute for farro in a pinch, although farro is more neutral in flavor and has a firmer texture. Soaking the grain overnight is advisable for one reason alone: if you plan to have leftovers. The grain is a sponge. I suspect recipes don't advise you to Russ your farro—that is, cook it straight from the bag as you might dried beans—because a long soak diminishes the capacity of farro to suck up all the liquid you add to your pot. An easy way around this is to cook and store the grains separately, portioning out the amount you'll serve right away. Here's a link to a traditional Tuscan recipe w chickpeas and borlotti, a soup similar to one in Marcella Hazan's first cookbook, though back in the day, she called for rice instead of farro. It's perfectly good vegan style, that is, without a meat broth. In fact, I improvised a lot this week while consulting Anna Del Conte's instructions to sauté red chili flakes w garlic and rosemary as the sofritto. There was fava bean purée in the freezer and neither white nor cranberry beans, so I dumped that into the food processor with half of my chickpeas and mixed together broths made with mushrooms and celeriac, respectively. Instead of a little dab of tomato paste that some recipes require, I used up an opened can of plum tomatoes. Stir in a little spinach at the end if you're too lazy to make a salad, and then christen each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. No need for cheese, really. Other ideas? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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