I've been obsessed with farro ever since it started turning up in restaurants. First I had it at too-cool-for-school Beretta in the Mission. Then I had it at the only semi-hip (but extremely delicious) Gialina in Glen Park. It even trickled down to plain old Pasta Pomodoro in Noe Valley, where we sometimes end up for weekend brunch.
Then I read about Thomas Keller's buttered farro over at Connie's blog, and I pretty much haven't stopped thinking about it since.
If you haven't had farro, it's a bit like barley, only slightly chewier. Farro can take nearly any flavor, be served hot, cool, or at room temperature, and either grace the side of a roast or stand up on its own. In short, it's exceedingly versatile.
When I finally got around to buying some (which turns out isn't cheap-possibly its only downside), I decided to make something that felt like summer, which to me means tomatoes and basil. Grilled vegetables or peppery arugula would work well in it too, as would curls of salty prosciutto or velvety black olives. What would have really blown me to bits was if I'd had some burrata on hand. But I suppose you can't have everything.
Farro salad with roasted tomatoes and shaved parmesan
Another Hungry Dog original
1 c. farro
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
3 c. water
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
handful of basil, julienned
parmesan for shaving
vinaigrette made to taste (I used olive oil, balsamic vinegar, one clove of minced garlic, a little honey, salt and pepper)
Preheat the oven to 425.
Heat the oil and butter over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, foamed, and subsided, add the farro and toast, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. Add water, stir well, bring to a boil then reduce heat so that the water is simmering but not boiling. Let cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Farro should still be chewy when it's done cooking, not overly soft.
While the farro is cooking, toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until the tomatoes split. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Make vinaigrette. I made about, oh, 1/3-1/2 c. and kept it separate from the salad mixing bowl so I could add it gradually. I'm not including directions here, because I never measure when it comes to vinaigrettes, which may explain why sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not.
When the farro is done, either pour it into a large mixing bowl, or if there is still some water that hasn't been absorbed, drain the farro and place it in mixing bowl. (I just estimated how much water to use and 3 cups turned out right--the farro is boiled, not steamed, so err on adding more water rather than less). Toss with vinaigrette, and taste for seasoning. The farro will keep absorbing the vinaigrette, so add as much or as little as you like. Then add the tomatoes, with any juices that have accumulated. Mix gently, then add basil, and mix again. Season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with shaved parmesan.