Sunday, September 6, 2015

Experimenting With Farro and Other Weird Grains

So I've had a shelf in my pantry full of weird grains for, oh, I don't know...over a year now?  

Amaranth.  Farro.  Sorghum.  Kamut.  Millet.  Spelt.  Teff.
I won a set of Bob's Red Mill Grains of Discovery from a blog giveaway and they've just sort of been sitting there, waiting to be used.  My husband wanted me to give them away, or do SOMETHING with them...  I just really didn't know what to do!

I was excited by the thought of using them and trying new foods, but I was at a loss as to what exactly I should make.  I'd half-heartedly searched for recipes every once in a while but nothing really caught my eye.

That changed a couple of weeks ago when I was planning out a menu for family that was visiting for the weekend.  I decided to look for some new recipes to try out on our guests and I stumbled across a recipe for Farro Salad with Asparagus and Parmesan.

Farro, asparagus, cranberries, tomatoes, pecans, balsamic vinaigrette...yum.
There is absolutely nothing about that salad that doesn't scream "put me in your mouth" to me!

The bag of farro had two sets of directions, one quick method and one overnight soak method.  I decided to go with the overnight soak because that's what the recipe called for and I had the time, but it's nice to know that if I ever decide to make this salad on short notice I've got options.  :-) Also, if you don't have farro on hand you could totally sub barley, sorghum, or even rice in this recipe.

Everything in this salad just works so perfectly together.  The tart cranberry, the nutty pecan, the yummy shaved parmesan...all tied together with that vinaigrette.  You know, I was little concerned by the sheer volume of salad that this recipe makes (you might want to cut it in half if you're not feeding a crowd!) but those leftovers were so delicious.  

I have to say I've developed a bit of an obsession with these grain salads and have made a number of them with those lately- that farro was just my gateway grain!  :-) Stay tuned for more grainy goodness.

Modified slightly from Allrecipes.com

2 C farro
3/4 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 C red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 C chopped pecans
3/4 C dried cranberries
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
1/3 C chopped fresh green onion
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette, or to taste
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Soak farro in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain.

2. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the drained farro, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then cook the farro uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue simmering until tender, about 30 more minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus, and cook uncovered until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, then immediately immerse in ice water for several minutes until cold to stop the cooking process. Once the asparagus is cold, drain well, and chop. Set aside.

4. Place farro, asparagus, tomatoes, pecans, cranberries, parsley, and chives in a large bowl. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over and sprinkle about 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese, then toss. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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