I first heard about farro from Mary Ann Esposito. She was making it on her cooking show, Ciao Italia on PBS. Soon after, I searched some out at the grocery store and used it to create a recipe for a contest. I made a frittata with a farro crust. It was really delicious. The farro was nutty and chewy and I knew I had found a new favorite ingredient! The grand prize for the contest was actually to win a trip to Italy and a chance to film a show with Mary Ann Esposito herself!! Alas, I did not win the contest, but I did score a great recipe, some knowledge and a new ingredient to experiment with! When I enter contests, big wins are rare, but I always learn something from my experiments and contest entries. So really, every contest I enter is a win in my book!
Farro (FAHR-oh) is an ancient grain that originated in Western Asia. It is popular throughout Italy and is gaining popularity in the US. It is sometimes confused with spelt or wheat berries, but technically it is a variety of wheat called emmer wheat. It is high in fiber, protein and a good source of magnesium, B vitamins and iron. I love this whole grain because it is easy to cook and it retains its nice chew even in soups and stews. I have only been able to find the "pearled" variety in my local grocery stores. (Sometimes you need to look in the organic section of the store to find it.) When it is pearled the outer hull is removed which diminishes some of the fiber and nutrition but makes it quicker to cook. I will try to search out some non-pearled to experiment with and compare.
As the weather gets warmer, I love to make simple grilled meals and salads. This warm farro salad is easy to prepare and holds up very well. The cooked farro gets topped with a delicious dijon vinaigrette when it is still hot, so it soaks in a ton of wonderful flavor. It can be eaten warm, at room temperature or chilled. The recipe makes a nice amount, so you'll be sure to have leftovers to pack in your lunch. It will also be a great dish to take on picnics or to summer barbecue parties! I hope you will love it!
Grilled Flank Steak: The Marinade
Flank steak is a super lean cut of beef and screams out for a tenderizing marinade. This one combines fresh herbs, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon, vinegar and oil. Just mix the ingredients in a zip top bag, slip in your steak, seal it up and "smush" all the ingredients around to make sure the flavors are well distributed. It's best if you can marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours. I'll usually flip the bag over a few times while it's marinating.
Warm Farro Salad: The Dijon Vinaigrette
This dressing is so versatile! You can use it for green salads, pasta salads or to drizzle on grilled meats and vegetables. Just shake it together in an empty jar. For this recipe some of the vinaigrette is used to dress the farro and some is reserved to drizzle over the grilled sliced steak.
Warm Farro Salad: Blanch the Green Beans
Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, then plunge into ice water. They'll be vibrant green and tender yet still firm.
Warm Farro Salad: Cook the Farro
The pearled farro takes just 15-20 minutes to cook. Add the vinaigrette to the farro while it's still hot. It will absorb the vibrant flavors.
Warm Farro Salad w/ Grilled Flank Steak Recipe:
Grilled Flank Steak & Marinade:
1 1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Combine all ingredients in zip top bag. Add steak, zip bag closed while squeezing out excess air. "Smush" the ingredients all around the steak to make sure they're well distributed.
Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Turn the bag once in a while.
Pre-heat grill to high heat. Remove steak from marinade and allow any excess to drip off. Grill steak for about 5 minutes on one side. Reduce grill heat to medium, turn steak over and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until internal temperature measures about 137 degrees F. with an instant read thermometer or to desired doneness. Remove steak to a platter, tent with foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain. Drizzle with a few tablespoons Dijon Vinaigrette before serving. (recipe below)
2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine ingredients in a jar with a lid & shake!
Warm Farro Salad:
12 ounces pearled farro
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups water
1 recipe Dijon Vinaigrette (see above)
3 cups halved grape tomatoes
2 1/2 cups (8-ounces) thin green beans (haricot verts) cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces and blanched (see below)
Bring farro, salt and water to boil in 2-quart (or larger) sauce pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender but with some chew.
Drain farro in fine mesh strainer or colander and pour into large bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and stir to mix. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Gently stir in green beans and tomatoes.
Add additional vinaigrette if needed, reserving some to drizzle over steak if desired.
Blanching Green Beans:
Bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil.
Add green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender/crisp.
Remove with spider or slotted spoon into bowl of ice water.
Allow to chill in ice water for about 3 minutes and drain.