Friday, November 21, 2008

Farroto with walnuts and beans

This has been a busy work week, so it is time to catch up. First off, I was glad to see the very positive reception to my note to the Foodbuzz community, calling for restraint with the "send to a friend" feature, which was leading to email overload.

Second, I had a very enjoyable meetup with a great group of bloggers at Batali's Lupa restaurant. That's Kalofagas (whose being in town brought this gang together), Colloquial Cookin, Bacon & Rhubarb, Chefs Gone Wild, and Stacey Snacks below.
blogger lunch
It was a very friendly, unpretentious group of people and the conversation ranged all over the map. I had not been back to Lupa for about 8 or 9 years since its early days, and I have to say that I had an absolutely fabulous meal. The wine complemented my advil mercifully (I think it was a bit more walking than I was ready for, but I wasn't going to miss meeting this bunch!).

Now, on to a vegetarian dish that I made earlier this week, adapted from a recipe by Lorna Sass in the Rancho Gordo cookbook (I thought I would give it another shot). I have discovered I really like farro. I find this word "farroto" to be rather amusing -- it means farro cooked like risotto. I can't decide if it is silly, harmless or pretentious, but I do admit that it is catchy and makes me laugh.

farro risotto
Farroto with Walnuts, Pecorino and Beans

With the recipe, I had to change a few things (including not having a pressure cooker or scarlet runner or marrow beans), and the result was healthy, filling and had a nice, nutty flavor. I enjoyed it quite a bit (including the leftovers for lunch), but Lisl thought it needed to be punched up with something green, like a big handful of chopped parsely. I'm thinking maybe some parboiled baby spinach? Or perhaps an earthy porcini angle? I'd love to hear your ideas on improvements.

farro

Farroto with Walnuts, Pecorino and Beans
serves 4

1/3 cup dried Mayacoba beans (or a favorite bean)
1/3 cup dried Vallarta beans (or a favorite bean)
1 1/4 cups semi-pearled farro
1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you are not vegetarian)
2 cups reserved bean cooking liquid
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese (orig. recipe uses parmesan)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme)
salt and ground pepper

After checking the beans for any small pebbles, place them in a pot and cover with cold water an inch over the top of the beans. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, until tender. About 15 minutes before they are done, soak the farro in cold water in another bowl and then drain, discarding soaking liquid.

Remove the beans with a slotted spoon to cool, and leave two or three cups of the cooking liquid in the pot. Add 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.

In a large saute pan with a high side (I like to use my large cast iron frying pan), heat up a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat, then saute the onions until they start to turn translucent. Raise the heat to medium or just above, and add the farro, a pinch of salt, and stir for a minute or so. Then stir in the wine. Crumble in the saffron threads and begin stirring in the warm stock one ladle or 1/2 cupful at a time, treating it just like a normal risotto and not letting it get too dry. After about 3 1/2 cups of broth and 20-25 minutes, start checking to see if it is tender (but not mush). In my case, I found it took 4 cups and 30 minutes.

Turn the heat to its lowest setting, add another few pinches of salt and some grindings of pepper, and stir in the beans, walnuts, rosemary, and pecorino cheese. Taste for salt and pepper (gently stirring it in) -- it will probably want a healthy amount in all.

Serve with a little extra grated cheese on top, and a medium-bodied red wine, such as a Rhone.

farro

17 comments:

kat said...

Oh, I'm jealous of your get together!
You know I've never made farro, must try it

Darius T. Williams said...

The farroto looks great! You guys looked like you had a really great time. I'm soooo jealous!

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

Stacey Snacks said...

I am loving this bean arrangement.
I think tastespotting should award you 1st prize.
Your biggest fan!

Giff said...

Thanks Kat and Darius, we did have a blast. I always enjoy arguing with Stacey about whether Parisians are obnoxious! ;-)

LOL@Stacey no comment re: TS :)

bee said...

mayacoba beans are luscious. i will try this dish soon. i've never tried farro, but have been meaning to. come on, man, you absolutely need a pressure cooker. i have two and use both of them several times a week.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Great dish. I've never made farro before, but now it's on my list of things I must attempt.

It was a great time on Thursday. So happy we got together!

Maryann said...

I love to see pictures of food blogger meet ups! How nice :)

Colloquial Cook said...

Haha, no need to argue, Parisian are obnoxious - when compared to New Yorkers that is! But there has to be a nation that out-rudes the French though. I'm keep my eyes peeled.

I would go for the porcini kick in the farroto! Good job Giff!

Giff said...

@bee duly noted! I do have a cabinet space problem however!

@colloquial cook, I might get into trouble for saying this, but I might submit German tourists? (not the entire nation, just while being tourists!) :)

Daily Spud said...

I have to get my hands on some farro. I've seen several references to it lately and that recipe sounds like it would be right up my street. Not sure where exactly in Dublin I'm going to find it, mind you, but I'm going to start looking!

Jan said...

Wow that must have been a great time you all had!
That looks a lovely dish you made there.

Cynthia said...

It's thrilling meeting up with fellow bloggers.

What does Farro taste like?

Jacob said...

nice post

Peter M said...

Giff, it was a delight to meet you and the rest of the gang mentioned and we'll have to get together next time at the jazz joint you suggested.

How fitting that you'd offer up a farrotto dish as this was also one of Lupa's specials that day.

Now you've inspired to make this healthy alternative...cheers!

Giff said...

Cynthia, some folks say farro tastes like barley. It definitely tastes like a grain, with a bit of a nutty flavor. Brown rice meets a grain maybe. Since I don't love polenta, and haven't quite decided on my acceptance of quinoa (have to try it a bit more), it's nice to discover this taste alternative to rice.

Chef E said...

Your photos make everything look quite yummy, I came here because I googled 'Farroto' and found this! I had it last night for the first time and want to cook it...I would have so been there for that meet up, we love Mario's places...

Dazy said...

I'm making this tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!