The first time I ever tasted farro was last November at The Marketplace in Asheville, NC as part of the Eat Write Retreat experience. And it wasn’t just good – it was mind-blowing! Cooked risotto style with braised greens, it has stayed fresh in my memory ever since.
Despite this fabulous first experience with farro, I was still reluctant to give it a try myself. Grains are not something I have a lot of experience cooking with, so I didn’t jump right in. That is until I saw the recipe for Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan by Merrill on the Food52 site. Simple, fresh and approachable, I decided I had to give it a try.
Often, when using a new ingredient for the first time, I am not always 100% successful right out of the gates. This was no exception. While the dish was delicious, the grain was not “broken down” enough and it was a little tough and hard to digest. So, on my second try, I decided to soak the grains overnight per the suggestion on the bag. This was definitely the trick to end up with a grain that was easy to digest, yet still a bit al dente and nutty.
I was fortunate enough to find Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Farro at my local QFC. Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Farro is sown, grown, harvested, cured and milled to order right here in Washington State’s Methow Valley, for what they refer to is the freshest possible plow-to-package experience. (I didn’t know anything about this company until I used their product and decided to do my research.)
Lucky for me, I had chanterelles in the freezer already partially sautéed in butter and garlic. Which meant all I had to do was throw them frozen right into the pan and sauté until brown and slightly crisp on the edges. I also added a couple handfuls of roughly chopped arugula and the zest of a full lemon and just a couple drops of truffle oil.
This version is a winner. The grain is nutty with a nice bite, the mushrooms and truffle oil add earthiness, while the lemon zest , arugula and parsley brighten it up. The absolute key to this however, is the chopped parmesan in the original recipe. You get these little nuggets of salty goodness in every bite. I can eat this as a main dish, but it would also be excellent alongside a nice piece of salmon or grilled chicken.
After getting the salad just right, setting up my props, lighting and finding the perfect angle…my camera had a dead battery! No spare and after waiting over 2 ½ hours for the battery to charge, I finally threw in the towel and whipped out my Iphone. Hopefully these pictures do the salad justice!
Farro and Chanterelle Salad
Makes 4 servings as side dish or 2 main dish servings.
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- ¾ cup cooked chanterelle mushrooms (sautéed in butter, garlic & salt) OR 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 tblsp. Lemon juice
- 3 tblsp. Olive Oil
- 2 – 3 drops Truffle Oil
- ¼ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
- 1 cup roughly chopped arugula
- ¼ cup finely chopped or crumbled parmesan, food processor works well for this
- Freshly ground pepper
- In medium saucepan, cover farro with cold water and let soak overnight.
- Drain, cover again with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. Let cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until al dente. Transfer to baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in large pan, over medium high heat, sauté previously prepared chanterelles OR melt 1 tblsp. Butter and 1 tblsp. Olive oil and add roughly chopped mushrooms of your choice. Let cook undisturbed at least 2 minutes before stirring. Continue cooking, until brown and slightly crisp at edges. (If you happen to be drinking a glass of white wine while cooking, pour a little bit in the pan to deglaze.) Salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Combine farro and mushrooms in mixing bowl. Add lemon zest, arugula and parsley and toss well. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss well again. Finally, add parmesan and fold gently. Adjust seasonings with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Serve room temperature.