2 cups water
1 cup farro
1/2 large onion (I usually use a white one, for mildness)
2 cloves garlic
9 ounces tomatoes
1 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
Up to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Place water and farro in a medium saucepan to presoak (I find just 5 to 10 minutes sufficient) while you prepare the other ingredients. Adding each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it, cut onion in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Thinly slice garlic cloves as well. Halve or quarter tomatoes. Add salt, pepper flakes (to taste) and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Bring uncovered pan (no lid necessary) up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a meaty chew), seasoned and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. If needed, though I’ve never found it necessary, cook it for 5 additional minutes, until farro is more tender.
Transfer to a wide serving bowl. If there’s enough leftover cooking liquid to be bothersome, simply use a slotted spoon to leave the amount you wish to behind. Drizzle farro lightly with additional olive oil, scatter with basil and parmesan. Eat immediately. Serves: 4 as a side, 2 as a hearty main
- 1/2 cup dried porcini
- 1/2 cup recently boiled water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 leek (washed and trimmed), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2 3/4 cups pearled farro (perlato)
- 1/4 cup Marsala
- 5 cups broth, vegetable, chicken, or porcini
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms
- sliced leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to serve
1. Cover the dried porcini with 1/2 cup of recently boiled water, then fill the kettle and put it on the heat again if you are making up the broth with concentrate, cube, or powder. In a wide, heavy saucepan (that comes with a lid) add 2 tablespoons of the oil and the fine jade tangle of leek, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the leeks are softened.
2. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, then chop them and add them to the pan. Stir well, then add the farro and turn it gently but thoroughly in the pan. Tip in the Marsala and porcini-soaking water and let it bubble up.
3. Make up the broth as wished and add this to the farro pan, stir, bring to a boil, and then clamp on a lid, turn down the heat, and let it cook at a simmer for 30 minutes, until the farro is cooked and all the liquid absorbed.
4. While the farro is cooking, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium-sized frying pan and cook the sliced crimini mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften (they will first seem alarmingly dry) 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 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, too, and add the cooked mushrooms. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan (they will melt in the heat of the farro) until the farro is creamy, then sprinkle with parsley and serve.