As a kid, I was always excited when my parents served us rice pilaf. I considered it a special, exotic treat- a welcome break from the usual baked potato or pasta side. My mom would pull out that slender white box, dump the contents into a pot and 20 minutes later we would be scooping heaps of seasoned rice onto our plates. Our kitchen would smell sooo good and everyone would go back for seconds. I still love a good pilaf (essentially rice cooked with spices and/or aromatics), but I've learned that even better, boxless versions exist! This farro pilaf is a delicious variation. If you have never had farro, an ancient grain hailing from Italy, you're in for a treat! It's nutty, chewy and hearty- it lends some earthiness and texture to this pilaf recipe. It's also high in protein, fiber, vitamin A and iron. I cook it using the "pasta method:" I boil a large pot of salted water and add the farro until it's al dente, then drain it in a colander. This method insures that it's perfect every time! The golden grains of farro pair beautifully with baby bella mushrooms, shallots and thyme for a Tuscan spin on a traditional Middle Eastern dish. I like to serve this as a side for anything: chicken, beef or salmon! But it would also be delightful as a main course over some wilted greens with an egg on top.
prep time: 10 min. cook time: 40 min. serves: 4-6 as a side dish
1 cup pearled farro
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
10 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farro, stir and allow to cook on the stove until al dente- 20-30 minutes. Drain the farro in a colander and allow to rest spread out on a sheet pan to prevent further cooking. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they're beginning to soften. Add the mushrooms along with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and the thyme and cook 7-10 minutes longer, until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender. Add the cooked farro to the pan along with the scallions and parsley (reserve a little bit for garnish) and stir to heat the grains through. Check for seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl garnished with some more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.