Friday, June 4, 2010
ONE GRAIN, TWO MEALS
Farro is an ancient Tuscan grain. It is a whole grain that packs a bunch of fiber, protein and B vitamins. Over the lat few years, it has become pretty popular, turning up on menus in restaurants and for sale not only in specialty shops but in Whole Foods too. I love farro and use it often. A couple of years ago I went on a farro hoarding spree. Don't ask me why, but I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to find it, so when I did, I bought lots of it. I was down to the last package and no longer fearful of being unable to find it when I prepared these two dishes.
A tip I learned from Heidi Swanson is that you can freeze grains! What a time saving tip. I prepared the whole package, used part of it in a Tuscan inspired mushroom soup, then I froze the rest and a few days later used it as the basis for a pilaf type side dish to go with my Tuscan grilled chicken. Can you tell I have Tuscany on the brain? It's been a year since I first went to Italy and am longing to go back.
For the pilaf, I just sauteed some garlic and red pepper flakes in some olive oil, added some quartered mushrooms and cooked until they were golden, then added some chopped mustard greens and the cooked farro. Sauté until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of good, fruity olive oil and serve. I topped this with a whole grilled chicken.
Tuscan Mushroom Soup
1 four ounce package dried mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 sprig sage, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils (beluga or green-not red or orange)
1 four quart container chicken stock (or homemade)
1 small bunch kale (chard, spinach, dandelion or any dark green will suffice), chiffonade
salt and red pepper flakes
1 1/2-2 cups farro, cooked according to package directions
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water to reconstitute. Set aside for 20 minutes or until soft. Remove mushrooms from water and set the water aside for later. Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside.
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan. Sweat the vegetables until soft, then add the garlic, lentils, sage and red pepper flakes to taste. Add the mushrooms to the pan, then add stock and reserved mushroom liquid. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked then add farro and kale. Cook until kale is wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with parmesan shavings.