If you have ever come to my house for dinner, chances are we sat down to a plate of farro. A fuel favorite in Italy since the age of the Etruscans, this ancient whole grain boasts a nutty flavor, high protein value and satisfying al dente bite.
Best of all, farro is incredibly easy to cook, making the ingredient a staple for weeknight dinners for every season. During the summer, I stir it risotto-style with a sauce of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. Fall calls for tossing it with roasted kale and butternut squash. And throughout this latest long Wyoming winter, the earthy grain warmed me up with wild mushrooms and sage.
This April, I’m all about pairing farro with spring’s colorful vegetables and herbs. Try the recipe below, or, better yet, sub in the freshest produce from your garden. Farro makes a hearty main course for my fellow vegetarians out there (especially if you top it with a crispy sunny-side-up egg) or a great side for any meal. Buon appetito!
Yields 4 entrées or 6 sides
2 cups farro
4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 spring onion stalks, sliced, greens and whites separated
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped (adjust to taste)
½ lemon, juiced and zested
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (plus more to taste if desired)
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine the farro and the broth (or water) in a large pot. Season with a few pinches of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until the grains are tender with a perfect chewy texture, about 15-20 minutes.
While the farro is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, spring onion whites and thyme. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the asparagus, and continue to cook until the asparagus is easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes.
When the farro is tender, drain the remaining liquid, and add to the skillet. Add a healthy drizzle of olive oil, plus the lemon juice and zest. Toss the grain with the vegetables, and toss again. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper (remember, the Parmigiano Reggiano will add its own salt). Taste, and season again if needed.
Divide among four warm bowls, top with spring onion greens and enjoy!
Author’s note: You can find farro stocked alongside rice and pasta at many grocery stores, including Verdello, Golden Rule Grocers, Good Health Market and Albertsons in Sheridan.