I love me some ancient grains, don’t get me wrong, but it can be a pain trying to find good recipes you can rely on. Sunset magazine, for instance, steered me wrong on the amount of liquid to add to farro — which is much less delicious sounding when it’s called spelt. There is some debate as to which type of farro is spelt and which isn’t on Wikipedia and elsewhere, which may explain the lack of clear cooking directions online.
Because our package of farro was from a place called “Casale Bartolini,” I expected John from the Bartolini Family Kitchens blog to basically come over and cook it for me. No relation, sadly, but he did give me this link:
That discussion is about as close as it gets to specific when you are making farro. The package we had was from Italy, where I guess they just know how to cook farro, because there were no hints whatsoever on the package about how much liquid to add. One blogpost I read was adamant not to soak it overnight but I did rinse it, just in case.
In the end, I decided to cook the farro as if it was risotto and it turned out great. I was using demi-perlato (half pearled) so instructions may vary for un-pearled or fully pearled farro, which might actually be spelt. Or maybe mine was? The translation on the package called it “spelt.”
I spent far too much time on the farro/spelt question this week when I should have been either working on my script or commenting on the writing I received from the other people in my writing group. None of the others are screenwriters but I am writing a family drama and they all have families — and drama — so they’re giving me great notes. I hope I’m holding up my end on their stuff. I no longer believe you can write entirely by yourself, in a vacuum, without the benefit of sharp readers who are also extremely supportive. These people are hard to find. I’m very lucky and I’m bringing cookies to them on Saturday.
Farro Cooked Risotto-Style
1 cup demi-perlato farro (not soaked)
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of chicken broth
4 – 5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables including at least one fresh tomato
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
A large shallot or small onion
Heat your oil in a big skillet. Saute your onion or shallots until soft and then add other veg. Once everything is just starting to reduce, throw in the farro and toast it briefly. The wine goes in next, followed by the broth. Add the fresh dill and lemon juice last.
I stirred the mixture on a low heat for approximately 30 minutes and then let it rest for ten before fluffing. I also added some leftover chicken before serving and a spoonful of plain yoghurt, but you could pretty much serve this dish with anything at all. I have no idea if you are supposed to toast it like risotto or not but I got raves on the taste. I wish I could take this devil-may-care attitude more when writing a script. The results might prove tasty — and less painful in the creation.