Author Notes: Farro is a great whole grain with a nutty flavor and deliciously chewy texture. It comes from Italy so is much more popular with Italian cooks. When I was first interested in cooking with new grains, Giada De Laurentis was one of the few sources for farro recipes. In one, she uses a coarse pesto, mostly parsley based, to coat the farro. I loved the idea of pesto on farro for many reasons, but I don’t love quite so much parsley. Here, I use a basic basil pesto made without the usual cheese and add both goat cheese (another Italian method) and a medley of spring vegetables. This can be served hot or cold and is wonderful with many different vegetables. I went to the farmstand the morning of the DC food52 brunch hoping for ramps and peas and when I found none, switched it up to asparagus and pea shoots and garnished it all with some microgreens. You can find farro in Italian specialty shops, Whole Foods, Balducci’s and regular grocery stores. —healthierkitchen
Serves: 8 – 10 as a hearty side dish
cups salted water
bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into one-half inch to one inch pieces
cup of your favorite pesto (try making it without the parmigianno)
cup goat cheese, if your pesto is cheeseless (can start with 2 tablespoons and add to taste)
tablespoons finely chopped parsley
tablespoons snipped chives
1 – 2
large handfuls of pea shoots, rough chopped
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling, drop in the asparagus pieces. After about one minute, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to pull out the asparagus and drop the pieces into a bowl of cold water or run under cold water. Do not drain the water in the pot as you’ll use it for the farro as well.
- Once the water comes back to a boil, put in the farro and cover pan. Lower burner and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste farro to make sure it has softened yet is still firm on the inside – same idea as with al dente pasta. Drain the farro, reserving a half cup of the cooking liquid.
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently, but well. Add some of the reserved cooking water if it seems dry.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
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