Friday, March 07, 2008
Posted by Ann
My sixteen year old daughter Sophie decided to stop eating meat about two years ago. This decision was not because she doesn’t like meat—she still thinks fondly of chorizo and beef stew—her decision was a moral one and she has been true to it. While my partner, Jack, and I are unrepentant omnivores, we respect her choice and really enjoy coming up with meals that will satisfy all of us.
She does still eat dairy and fish, so the obvious solution is fish or baked Macaroni and Cheese. But you can’t serve those dishes over and over—just as you can’t rely on stir-fry with tofu (which seems to be what everyone makes for a non meat eater and which she is heartily tired of!), so I like to find ideas that will feed her body and her mind—meals that are new and exciting, as well as dishes, like Vegetarian Shepherds Pie, that evoke her memories of favorites from her meat-eating days. Memory plays such an important part in our enjoyment of food, but making new food memories is important too.
A new food to us, farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world and the ancestor of all modern wheat. Evidence of cultivation has been found in Damascus as long ago as 7700 BC and more recently was the standard ration for the Roman Legion. The great news is that farro retains nearly all of its nutritional value in the kernel, so that even after processing it contains high levels of proteins and carbohydrates. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, thiamin, niacin, iron and potassium, and it’s also easy to digest. It does contain gluten, but is tolerated by many wheat sensitive people. Nutty and chewy, faro is almost impossible to overcook and lends itself to all sorts of preparations from the Roman salad of farro tossed with tomatoes, olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar to pilafs, risottos or stews. We like it with escarole, and Sophie enjoyed it so much she agreed to paint an illustration for this recipe (below).
Farro with Escarole
Adapted from a favorite pasta recipe
Serves 4 - 6
2 cups of farro
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large heads escarole, washed and drained, roughly chopped
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cover the farro with water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Drain it and put it into a large pot with 2 quarts of water and some salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes. The faro will not absorb all of the water, so fear not.
Roughly chop the heads of escarole and then clean the leaves by soaking them in a sink filled with water. Spin them dry in batches. You’ll have a huge amount of escarole and wonder how in the world this will all come together, but it will.
In a large (4 quart) stove-top pan or stockpot, heat the olive oil and cook the sliced garlic until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic chips from the pan to drain and reserve. Leave the pan with the oil ready to use again.
About ten minutes before the farro is ready heat up the oil in the garlic pan, and add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the roughly chopped escarole, tossing to wilt it in the flavored oil and wilting it into the pan in stages. Once all the escarole has fit into the pan, add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
Drain the hot farro well and add it to the escarole pan. Add the lemon zest and toss to distribute. Turn the heat off and add the butter and cheese, toss to melt. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the garlic chips.
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This Post was written by Ann from Redacted Recipes