Farro is one of the oldest grains cultivated by humans. It was originally found in the Middle East, and is now primarily grown in Italy. Farro is delicious and a good source of fiber, as well as protein and iron. It is a perfect source of protein for vegetarians. Farro looks and tastes a bit like brown rice, but it has a more fibrous texture and a nutty taste with hints of oats and barley. It holds its texture better than arborio rice when cooked, which makes it a perfect alternative to risotto. It has a crunchy, nutty complex flavor and is low in gluten. This evening I prepared it like a salad at room temperature. I then added it to my Caesar salad and it was wonderful. It is great on greens or as a side dish. I am going to be making this wonderful grain more and more and I especially can’t wait to make it for my vegetarian daughter.
1 cup uncooked farro (I used Italian pearled farro)
1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used cremini, but a mix of wild or any kind you prefer would be good too)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* finely chopped or crumbled parmesan – this is totally optional but added a delicious flavor
* a little chopped fresh parsley (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use, but it would be nice)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, prepare the farro according to directions on bag. I bought the italian pearled type and it didn’t call for soaking, but a lot of farro needs to be soaked prior to cooking. I would suggest buying the type that doesn’t unless you have a lot of time.
While the farro is cooking, wipe and trim the mushrooms. I gave them a rough chop but left a lot of larger bite-sized pieces, don’t chop too small. On a rimmed baking sheet spread the mushrooms out and drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to your liking (you can always add salt at the end). Toss gently to distribute everything, spread the mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. I like the mushrooms crispy around the edges.
Once the farro is cooked, drain it well, and allow it to cool down. I took the mushrooms off of the baking sheet with a slotted spatula, just to remove a bit of the liquid. When the farro and mushrooms have cooled down to room temperature or barely warm, I combined them in a serving bowl. I then add the lemon juice and I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil, but if that is not enough, you can add more a little bit at a time. There is some oil that gets left on mushrooms and it is enough. If you’d like, add the parmesan and parsley and taste for salt and pepper at this time. I served at room temperature. I also think it would be delicious with some chopped vegetables added, completely up to you. Joel even ate it.
* should serve 4 as a generous side dish