There are times when an improvisation turns into something you want to repeat again and again. This dish is one of the successes that I will continue to make once a month or so because it’s just that tasty.
It’s “origin story” isn’t very glamorous though. I realized I had some cooked farro slowly wasting away in the fridge as I was putting together the menu for one of our mostly weekly Saturday night gatherings. Since I hadn’t actually planned on making it part of dinner I didn’t pickup the additional ingredients necessary to make Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme. Luckily, a handful of pantry staples turned this from a bland grain into a flavorful side dish.
Prep time: 5 minutes (if you have precooked your farro)
Total time: 20 minutes
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the diced onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with oil and saute until translucent, 5-8 minutes.
- Add the butter. When it is fully melted add the farro, paprika and spice blend. Toss until the farro is coated with butter and the spices are well distributed.
- Heat for about 5 minutes so that the farro is heated through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Serve.
If you have fresh herbs such as parsley or chives on hand you could added a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs at the end of cooking.
This recipe hails from a 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I made it shortly after first buying a bag of farro. In the Cook’s recipe they cook the farro as part of the recipe, in only 20 minutes. Ha! I found it took twice that time to get to an al dente texture. I now prepare my farro in advance, store it in the fridge for a day or two and have it ready to go.
Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20-25 minutes
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced evenly
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
- 2 cups prepared farro
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. cider vinegar
- kosher salt and pepper
- Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and thyme; sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables have started to brown. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the sherry to the pan and scrap up any browned bits (aka fond). Cook until the pan is almost dry, about 1 minute.
- Add the farro and toss until the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the farro is heated through.
- Stir in the parsley and vinegar. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
I’ve had good success by microwaving mushrooms in a covered bowl for 2-3 minutes on high. Drain the liquid, add to the hot fat and saute until browned, another 2 minutes. It can save 10 minutes or so on the dish.
My introduction to farro might have been almost a decade ago however I was reintroduced to it earlier this year via the local megamart deli counter. They sell a farro salad with finely chopped vegetables that was quite tasty. Once I located a good source of farro I started experimenting with combinations for salads until I found one I liked.
Farro and Cauliflower Salad
Prep time: 20 minute
Total time: 25 minutes
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 red pepper
- 4 oz. shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as chives or parsley
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cooked farro
- kosher salt and ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, no bigger than 1/2″. Toss with the tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Prep the rest of your veggies. I quarter the zucchini, removed the seeds and then cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Same goes for the red pepper. I also cut the shredded carrots into smaller pieces.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until just fragrant. Transfer to your serving bowl and set aside.
- Make a basic vinaigrette from the shallots, mustard, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine farro, veggies and herbs with the pine nuts. Toss to combine and then drizzle with the Vinaigrette. Toss some more until well combined. Enjoy.
Both the farro and cauliflower can be prepared in advance, even the day before.
Seven or eight years ago a local Italian food goods shop opened a couple of towns over. They had a great selection of Italian meats and cheese, wine and locally made desserts. At some point they added a house-made cabinet with a variety of items. One of them was a salad made with farro, a grain I hadn’t encountered before. It was interesting, a little nutty, a bit chewy. They sold the dry grain however I thought $10 for 8 oz. was a bit steep so I never ventured further.
A recent bit of peckishness at the local megamart led me to buy some deli-made farro salad. It was tasty and I decided I’d see if I could find it in dry form at a reasonable price. I did and have come up with a couple of now go-to recipes. They all start with cooked farro, so here’s a recipe for just plain, basic farro.
Prep time: 1 minute
Total time: 30-45 minutes
- 1 1/2 cup whole farro
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- Bring 8-10 cups of tap water to a boil; add salt and stir until dissolved. Add farro, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Begin checking for tender grains; they will likely still have a bit of chew to them at 20 minutes. Check every 5 minutes until they reach the doneness you like.
- Drain, shaking off excess liquid. Use immediately as a side (maybe add a splash of extra virgin olive oil) or allow to cool before storing for future use within the week.
This recipe uses Bob’s Red Mill farro which, as best I can tell, is a semi-pearled variety. Semi-pearled means some of the bran has been removed prior to packaging. You may also find pearled farro, in which all the bran has been removed. Pearled farro will cook faster than semi-pearled; I think you trade out a bit of flavor (and certainly fiber) in the exchange.
Farro doubles in volume once cooked so this recipe will yield about 3 to 3 1/2 cups of cooked farro.