Since our first trip to Italy I have been a big fan of farro. Farro is made from Emmer Wheat, not spelt. The first time I had it was when I ordered Ribollita (a thick soup) at La Bottega, a little restaurant in Volpaia, a small town in Chianti. I’d read that the mother of the family who own the restaurant, made the best Ribollita, so of course we had to go there! It was great! A short time later, at Ristorante da Dalfina, a short drive from Florence, we ordered a tomato risotto made with farro. It was delicious. I simply had to buy farro to bring home! I ended up with leftover risotto so used it to make a soup with borlotti beans, carrots, onions, celery and some herbs. Tummy warming on a cool day.
Makes 3 – 4 First Course/Side Dish Servings
1 cup farro perlato (semi-pearled)
1 Tbsp. each EVO & unsalted butter
1 ½ cups chicken stock** or tinned low/no salt chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
2 cups tinned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and pureed in a food mill (or you can simply mash them up with your hands). Don’t use a food processor, pureed seeds tends to make the tomatoes bitter.
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. pancetta, cut into fine dice
¼ cup dry white wine
2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For Finishing the Risotto:
2 – 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Heat the stock in a pot until hot. Cover with a lid and keep warm on low heat. Heat the EVO & butter in a medium sized pot, add the pancetta; sauté until golden; add the onion, sauté until translucent, then add the garlic, sauté for a minute or so. Add the farro, stirring until coated and lightly toasted; approximately 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Ladle in ½ cup stock at a time, stirring and adding more stock as it is absorbed into the farro. Repeat until all stock is used up. Add the pureed tomatoes, continuing to cook until the farro is al dente 12 – 15 minutes, adding more stock if necessary until it reaches that point; add the basil, season to taste with more salt if required and freshly ground black pepper. Add the cheese and butter, stirring until incorporated. Serve immediately.
If using farro that is not semi-perlato: sauté the onion and garlic as above, stirring for a minute to coat with oil and butter, add the wine, cook until reduced, stirring constantly, then add 1 ½ cup hot broth and ½ tsp salt, stir to combine; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer about 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the farro. Add the pureed tomatoes and ¼ cup hot broth, cook over medium heat, uncovered, until tender adding more broth ¼ cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until farro is al dente, approximately 25 minutes. the farro should not be dry. Season farro to taste with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the cheese and butter until creamy.
Helpful link to Making Stock.