Farro is an ancient grain with an impressive pedigree clouded by tenuous designations and contradictory classifications. But at the end of the day it’s a delicious, versatile, and relatively accommodating grain.
In this episode of Fresh Pickings, host Kat Johnson sets out to clear up some of the confusion and understand this grain a little better. Did you know ancient grains are also known as heritage grains? Here at Heritage Radio Network, that word holds a lot of meaning for us. So, to talk about what Heritage means, Kat sits down Patrick Martins, founder of Heritage Food USA and Heritage Radio Network.
Then, Linda Pelaccio brings us a closer look at the storied history of farro, which dates all the way back to Ancient Romans. Linda is the host of A Taste of the Past and a culinary historian.
To see the grain in action, Kat heads into the Roberta’s kitchen with Chef Jackie Carnesi to learn how she makes her Spring Savory Porridge, a riff on a basic farro porridge recipe she changes based on the season.
Savory Spring Porridge
By Chef Jackie Carnesi, Roberta’s
100 g farro, cooked in salted water and cooled
60 g pea puree, room temp
10 g minced shallot
10 g grated fiore sardo (can substitute parmesan)
10 g sake lees
40 g snap peas, cut in half
80 g asparagus, cut into 2″ long pieces
juice of half a lemon
10 g white balsamic vinegar
10 g evoo
80 g water
3 g mint, chopped
For the pea puree:
1 pint shelled english peas
1 T shiro dashi
Bring a pot of salted water (it should taste like the ocean) to a boil. Have an ice bath ready nearby. Put your peas into a pasta basket and drop into the boiling water. Allow to cook on high heat for about 5 mins or until tender. Transfer the pasta basket into the ice bath. Once the peas are totally cooled, transfer them to a blender and add the shiro dashi. Blend on high until totally smooth. (you may need to add in a bit of water in order to get the peas to puree easily in the blender. It should be the consistency of a loose yogurt).
Heat a saute pan on medium high heat. Add your oil. Once it is shimmering and moves around easily in the pan, add your snap peas and asparagus. Cook about 2 mins, stirring once or twice. You’re looking for a bit of color. Season with salt and deglaze with white balsamic vinegar. Next, turn down the heat a bit and add your shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add in the water, farro, sake lees, and fiore sardo. Bring to a boil and reduce the water by about 1/3. Fold in half the pea puree and lemon juice. It should be a risotto consistency at this point, but add water or continue cooking if too dry or loose, respectively. You can also add more cheese to tighten it up as well. Fold in the mint, check for seasoning and take it to the plate. When plating we like create a little well in the middle of the porridge and put the other half of the pea puree in the center. Finish with more cheese and freshly ground black pepper and the garnish of your choosing!