The other night I got to eat at one of my favorite New York City restaurants, Blue Hill, where chef Dan Barber (farm-to-table advocate and creative director of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture) performed magic with some farro. One of the loveliest of ancient grains, farro belongs to the wheat family and is a rich source of fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E.
The Blue Hill farro was creamy and swimming in a pistou of local vegetables, I wanted to make something similar, but simpler. I found an easy creamy farro recipe in Food & Wine magazine by another talented chef, Barbara Lynch. I removed the heavy cream and replaced it with yogurt and swapped a leek for the white onion, but the rest is close to hers and I am so happy with it.
I really adore using farro in this way and it is a far healthier version of a typical risotto, which relies upon refined white Arborio rice. Itís earthiness provides more flavor to play against. There are any number of additions you can make to the base recipe below. I tossed peas and a handful of mint into mine; Leave a comment if you have any ideas or special success with any combinations you try.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, greens removed, cleaned and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups farro (10 ounces)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the leek and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the farro and cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat it with the oil. Add the wine and cook, stirring until it is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the water, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring, until absorbed between additions. The farro is done when it is al dente and suspended in the thick, creamy liquid, about 25 minutes total.
3. Stir in the yogurt, the cheese and butter and simmer until the risotto has thickened, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve.