Farro with Mushrooms, Shallots, Pepper and Parsnip

November 14, 2011

Continuing on with my quest to try new items from the bulk section of the Boulder Whole Foods, my latest purchase was farro. An ancient grain, also called emmer wheat, farro is another low-yield grain (like black barley, which I first tried a couple of weeks ago). Farro is the Italian name for the grain, Italy being the region where most farro is grown these days. There is some dispute over what farro actually is — apparently there are three kinds of grain which are referred to as farro in Italy, but emmer is the most frequently grown.

I had heard of farro, but had no idea what made it different from any other kind of grain. True to my usual purchasing habits, I neglected to write down any details from the bulk bin, so when I researched how to cook it, I wasn’t sure if I had the pearled or non-pearled variety. (Pearled grain has the outer bran removed). So just in case it wasn’t the pearled type, I soaked it overnight before using it. Then I cooked it in stock the way you would any other grain. It turned out to have a lighter taste than other grains I’ve eaten. A cleaner flavor, maybe? Not nutty like some are. Overall, it was quite tasty. And it turns out to be fairly high in protein, as well as low in gluten.

I had some shallots, cinnamon cap and oyster mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic, which I knew would go well with the farro. I decided to also throw in a parsnip, just for a little taste contrast. I wanted a sort of rich, smoky taste, so I ended up using Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, sage, and thyme for seasoning. Once I was ready to serve it, I felt it still lacked some richness and dimension. So in a move that I have seen cause the judges on Chopped to physically cringe and simultaneously utter ‘no, no, no!’, I added some truffle oil. Their issue with truffle oil hinges on the fact that most truffle oil is not made from truffles. It’s basically an organic aroma which is present in real truffles, infused in olive or grapeseed oil. The resulting taste is less complex than a real truffle, and therefore disdained by many epicureans. But we had some on hand, I added it, and you know what? It finished the dish off perfectly. So I know it’s not real, honest, complex-tasting truffle. But it worked quite well for what I was making. (There are some lovely advantages to being an amateur cook!).

Farro Ingredients.

Ingredients

Farro with Mushrooms, Shallots, Pepper and Parsnip
serves 3-4

1 cup farro
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 parsnip, diced
8-10 shallots, finely chopped
1 lb fresh mushrooms (I used oyster and cinnamon cap)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp avocado or canola oil
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp truffle oil (yes, Chopped judges – truffle oil!)
1-2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
sage to taste
thyme to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Soak the farro overnight in water (unless it’s pearled, then you can skip this step). Drain and rinse. Combine with 2+1/2 cups stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15-30 minutes, until tender. Drain if necessary and set aside.

Cut any large mushroom clumps into smaller ones so that all the mushrooms are basically the same size. Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the mushrooms just a few minutes, stopping before they become juicy. Remove them from the pan, and set them aside.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the shallots and pepper for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and parsnips, and continue to cook until somewhat tender, about 4-7 minutes. Turn the heat down to about medium low, and add several tablespoons of stock. Add the Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Taste as you add it, and adjust to your liking. Continue cooking, and once the stock is mostly absorbed, add the farro, mushrooms, and another tablespoon of stock, and cook until everything is heated through. Stir in a teaspoon of truffle oil, taste, and add more truffle oil if desired.

 Farro, Mushrooms, Shallots, Pepper, and Parsnip

Farro, Mushrooms, Shallots, Pepper, and Parsnip

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