Working on the Local Thing

Farro Salad

I recently finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I have to say that I found it inspiring. Her mantra “Eat Locally” is like an earworm, making me read those obnoxious stickers on produce to see where its from and get up early on Saturday mornings to shop at the Hastings Farmer’s Market. And that’s not all bad. I’m not really complaining here. I’m just glad I’m reading it now instead of back in the ‘80’s. I’d be digging up the back yard to plant squash and looking into raising goats. I was highly impressionable and full of zeal.

Now I embrace Julia Child’s attitude about moderation, and that’s why I could prepare my favorite farro salad for dinner last night.

The salad is problematic for “localvores” unless you live in both Italy and Spain; you see I have only been able to find farro made in Italy and Manchego cheese made in Spain. But I compensated by getting the red peppers at the local farmer’s market and the basil even closer – my own backyard. I can live with that trade off for now.

Farro, by the way, is a nutty grain. The internet tells me that it was the staple of the Roman Legions. Wikipedia says that it’s also known as Emmer Wheat and that it was one of the first domesticated crops.

I adapted this recipe from one in the beautiful Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rogers.

Here’s how to make it:

1C farro
1 Red pepper, diced – a bit bigger than the farro*
2/3 C Manchego cheese, diced — a bit bigger than the farro
1/4 C fresh basil en chiffonade (shredded)**
3-4 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Boil about 3 cups of water in a med. saucepan. Add a few pinches of salt.

Add I C farro to the boiling water. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until somewhat tender, but not too firm.

Drain cooked farro, as you would pasta, and then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

When the grain is cool, combine red pepper, cheese, and basil in a large bowl. Add olive oil, a tablespoon at a time (while gently tossing the salad) until everything is thinly and evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I will eat this salad anytime, even for breakfast! But now that I’ve read the Kingsolver I would feel badly to purchase basil in February. I’m not saying that I won’t ever, but I’d feel really badly.

*Rogers’ recipe calls for tomatoes. I’ve also used roasted red peppers when I’m not in a hurry.
** A chiffonade is done by stacking all of the basil leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like some kind of strange cigar, and then slicing thin thin horizontal cuttings (say, from the tip to the base).


SF Mom of One said...

I am always on a quest for whole grains; as in a whole piece of grain, not whole-grain Cheerios :)

This farro stuff looks like it fits the bill, and the salad sounds really good. Like you said, now's the time.


Deb said...

Yes, Farro is clunky and bulky and easy to fix. There isn't any of that voodoo magic like with rice—wondering if it's done. Good advice, though, is to let it cool if you're going to put cheese in the salad (and you should). Once I was impatient and it was a gloppy mess.