One-pan farro with tomatoes

We're a little over halfway through the first month of the new year, and the first 19 days of 2018 have turned out to be pretty good so far. I've enjoyed a relaxing staycation here in the Eternal City, gotten started on some exciting plans for the blog in the new year (stay tuned), made plans to visit Milan next month, started working on developing a few new recipes, and, perhaps most exciting of all have *drumroll* ... discovered thione-pan farro with tomatoes

*Pause for dramatic effect.*

I'm late to the party here; Her Royal Blogging Highness, Deb Perelman, posted this recipe on her blog, Smitten Kitchen, a while back now, and I remember seeing it subsequently posted and re-posted by other bloggers, all with rave reviews (in fact there are 682 glowing comments in the comment section of the post). I don't quite remember why I didn't hop on the bandwagon -- It got lost among my many bookmarked recipes?! I go more for pasta than whole grains?! Everyone was making it and I'm too cool to follow a trend?! -- but I'm so very glad I eventually did. This recipe -- which made it in to Deb's newest cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day -- can be filed under genius recipes. That's right -- just like Marcella Hazan's Tomato, Onion, and Butter Sauce, it's one of those dreamy, magical recipes, one that requires little time, a handful of ingredients, and minimal effort, while still managing to be spectacularly tasty. Unlike any looming New Year resolutions you might be trying to maintain, this marvelous, enchanted one-pan farro asks very little of you. It requires a little quick slicing of just three ingredients, which are then thrown in to a pan with the remaining ones, the whole thing then left to cook for half an hour, after which you'll have a spot on, perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked one-pot dinner, with lots of wholesome, nutty farro, juicy sweet tomatoes, mellow, falling apart onions, and a hint of aromatic garlic, perfect with a little basil and a lot of Parmesan over the top (a drizzle of olive oil doesn't hurt here either). And wait, there's more! Like this Tomato Lentil Soup, today's farro also fits in to any "eat better" resolutions you may have for yourself this year (though I can't promise I'll post too many more recipes like this - both Valentine's Day and Carnevale are right around the corner). I've made this four times since I first tried the recipe -- as we speak, I've just finished polishing off a bowl for dinner -- and though I can't quite predict how this year will play out yet, I do know this is a dish I'll be making all through 2018. I wouldn't be even a little bit surprised if you find yourself doing the same.

A couple of notes: If you've never tried farro, please do! Farro is an ancient grain (enjoyed by the ancient Romans themselves) that is a nutritional power house, high in fiber, iron, and protein, with a nutty, hearty flavor and a chewy texture. There's more than one type of farro; farro can be whole/unpearled, semi-pearled (semi-perlato) and pearled (perlato,) with pearling describing how much of the exterior bran is removed. In this recipe, you should use semi-pearled farro, which ensures the 30 minute cooking time, but pearled or whole farro will work too; you'll just have to adjust the cooking time accordingly (look to the package directions for guidance as well). If the directions say your farro will cook in less than 15 minutes, it’s probably pearled, and if it takes 60 to 80 minutes, it is whole or unpearled. Note that whole farro can also be soaked overnight to cut down on the cooking time. For more farro information, check out this article. Finally, I substituted parsley for the basil here with good results, and have also used a little feta instead of Parmesan, which was equally delicious. The choice is yours.

Looking for other healthy-ish mains to get January started off right? I've got this Salmon with a Mustard Rosemary Glaze, this Fennel, Orange, and Olive Salad, this Insalata Tonno e Fagioli, Avocado Basil Dip, this Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, this Pasta e Ceci, Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata + Burrata, this Tomato and Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard, this Chickpea, Kale, and Sausage Soup, this Lemon Roasted Chicken, this Pollo ai peperoni, this Pollo alla cacciatora in bianco, and this Turkey, White Bean, Spinach Soup.


2 cups (470ml) water
1 cup (210 grams) semi-pearled farro
1/2 large onion, sliced in to half moons
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
9 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
A few basil leaves, cut in to ribbons
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Place the farro and the water in a medium pot and let pre-soak for 10 minutes. While the farro is soaking, slice the garlic thinly, slice the onions into half moons, and halve or quarter the tomatoes. Add the ingredients to the pot as you go.
Add the salt and olive oil to the pot and stir around. Over medium-heat, bring the ingredients in the pot to a boil, and then lower the heat to bring everything down to a simmer. Let the farro simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
When the 30 minutes are up, taste the farro; it should be perfectly cooked ("tender but still with a meaty chew," as Deb describes it) and perfectly seasoned, with no residual water in the pan. If for some reason there is water still in the pan, let the farro cook for another five or so minutes.
Place the farro in a large serving bowl, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil, sprinkle with some basil, and top with freshly grated Parmesan. Eat immediately. Serves 2 very generously, or makes 4 side dish sized portions.  

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