Carbs. Oh I love you so. I discovered my absolute and unwavering love for you that one brief time I tried to give you up (Atkins must have been a miserable man). What a mistake, one that I will never ever make again. You give me the strength (energy) to keep on going. And you never fail to surprise me with new ways to love you. For example farro. Nutty, chewy Farro.
I tasted farro for the first time recently and have been smitten ever since. It’s a type of wheat with a very nice texture and flavor. At its plainest you could use it in place of rice, but it has such a great flavor of it’s own that you’re bound to start plotting recipes and dishes with it as your star.
Farro is available whole (un-pearled), semi-husked (semi-pearled/perlato) or husked (pearled/perlato), but because of its relatively new found fame outside Italy, labels don’t always specify which type the package contains. As Smitten Kitchen notes, the best way to plan your recipe (and guess the type of farro you have) is to go by the cooking times indicated on the package. If the cooking time indicated is less than 15 minutes, it’s probably pearled, around thirty minutes it’s likely to be semi-pearled, and anything around or upwards of an hour is definitely whole or un-pearled.
- ½ cup (10 gm) dried porcini
- ½ cup recently boiled water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 leek (washed and trimmed), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2 cups (250 gms) pearled farro (perlato)
- ¼ (60 ml) cup Marsala
- 2½ cups broth, vegetable or chicken (or more, based on amount indicated on the package)
- 8 ounces mushrooms (I used a mix of button and portabella), sliced
- Leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to serve
- Cover the dried porcini with ½ cup of recently boiled water, set aside. In a wide, heavy saucepan, add the olive oil and leek and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the leeks are softened.
- Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, then chop them and add them to the pan. Stir well, then add the farro and stir gently to coat with the oil. Add the Marsala and porcini-soaking water and let it bubble up.
- Add the broth, stir, bring to a boil, and then clamp on a lid, turn down the heat, and let it cook at a simmer for 10-12 minutes (or more - follow the cooking time indicated on your package), until the farro is cooked and all the liquid absorbed.
- While the farro is cooking, warm the butter in a large frying pan and cook the sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften, at which point add the thyme, grate in (or mince and add) the garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned, juicy and soft. Remove from the heat if there is still time on the clock for the farro. Once the farro is cooked, take it off the heat and add the cooked mushrooms (I add ¾ths of the mushrooms at this stage and use the rest to scatter over each plate of farro). Stir in the Parmesan, then sprinkle with parsley and serve.