Monday, March 18, 2013

FOOD LOVE: Farro w/ Chickpeas, Currants & Leeks

It's amazing how in the 5 years of blogging, I have learned to love quinoa, farro, kale, beets and everything else that's been around for hundreds of years.

If you've never tried it, how do you know if you like it or not?

Kale. Swiss Chard.
I did not grow up with fresh vegetables, or a garden, so Path-Mark frozen was my source for green, and oh yeah, iceberg lettuce.
Who knew about wonderful chard, kale and Romaine? Not me.

Salad Dressing.
Pfeiffer Caesar Salad Dressing was actually yummy (anybody remember that?), with bits of Parmesan cheese in the bottle.
That is the only salad dressing I knew existed.

What's that?
A thousand year old grain eaten by the we eat it weekly.

They came in a jar (my mother did not buy canned anything for fear of botulism).

That came in a box. Lipton Noodle with a powder packet. (again, my mother did not buy anything in a can).

Cranberry Sauce.
We never had any (cause my mother didn't buy canned foods..............), and I didn't know fresh cranberries existed, though my state is one of the largest producers.

Are you still with me?

Anybody? Bueller?

I made a farro cauliflower dish years ago and posted it, but no one seemed to care, though it was fabulous, if I remember correctly.

I recently had a beef cheek stew on farro from Piedmont, made by my friend Dan, and it was so comforting and delicious, I knew I had to rediscover farro again.

Farro is a whole wheat grain that looks like barley (and Sugar Smacks cereal), and is popular in Tuscany and Abruzzo, instead of rice.
It is nutty tasting and it's wonderful.

Remember that amazing Farro Chestnut Soup that Linda posted from the Abruzzo dinner?

I ordered my Farro online from Umbria, and have a case of it, so if you need some, let me know.

I found this great sounding main course salad in the New York Times, so I put farro to the test once again.

This was wonderful, healthy and hearty enough for a winter dinner (and it's still very much winter here).

Farro w/ Ceci, Currants & Leeks (adapted from the New York Times): serves 8

4 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup plus more, extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, or to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups dry farro
2/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves and tender stems (I used fresh parsley instead)

Heat oven to 400F degrees.

Using a large rimmed baking sheet, toss leeks with some olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Spread leeks out in a single layer and roast, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crisp at the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss leeks with chickpeas, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons sea or kosher salt, chile flakes and garlic. Stir in 1/4 cup oil. Let marinate while you prepare the farro.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook farro until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Toss with chickpea mixture. Stir in currants and celery leaf (or parsley).

Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

We love farro. It's here to stay.


Joanne said...

Im pretty sure my mom has never heard of most of the ingredients I cook with today lol. Love the sound of this salad...farro is one of my favorites!

Katie C. said...

Have you ever heard of roasting chickpeas? I haven't tried it yet but I've heard that it makes them into a nice crunchie snack. I wonder how long you have to cook them. You could probably do this for your recipe too.

Anonymous said...

Stacey, it is ironic that in the days when botulism was a worry, it usually came from home-canned low-acid foods - vegetables (not tomatoes) and meats that had been "put up" in jars in home cooks' kitchens.

I never heard botulism connected to food in tins unless they were kept too long and high-acid foods like tomatoes attacked the linings.

Linings of tins have improved over the years and date stamps that can be read and understood (not codes) are stamped on the ends.

Amanda said...

Awesome, Stacey! Thanks for this recipe...I am making it for lunch today. It is sure to be a winner.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I've been wanting to cook with farro more often and this would be a great way to use the grain. It's funny how so many foods we ate as young people are now so disdainful to us. Did you ever use Good Seasons salad dressing? I remember how I loved it, but it would turn gluey after a few days in the fridge. I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole now. Having an Italian mom meant that swiss chard, squid, etc. were part of our diet, but she did succumb to some American convenience foods, including canned cranberry sauce, jello and boxed cake mixes. Thanks for the shout-out.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that back in "the day" a lot of the foods that you mentioned, such as lettuce other than iceberg, just were not available in the average grocery store. There were other things. Who remembers when Hamburger Helper came out. My mother thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!

Susan said...

Hi Stacey,Just made this but with a few changes! Didn't have farro but had some barley and I didn't want to heat up the oven so I sauted the leeks. It is delish! Thanks again for your great ideas.

Stacey Snacks said...

I have had two cans of soup that were swollen in my lifetime. Obviously, botulism and they were name brands not homemade

Now the worry with canned foods is the plastic lining called BPA.

It's always something.

Veggie Gal said...

Found farro at Trader Joe's today and made this DELICIOUS healthy salad.
Loved it!

Diane said...

Stacey--Chick peas can be roassted! In fact, I don't eat them straight out of the can, I always roast them first. Drain the chickpeas, pat dry with a paper towel, then toss on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes (watch them)or until golden. When they come out of the oven sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese. Wonderful!!

AdriBarr said...

Here to stay - truer words were never spoken. Both farro and chickpeas sustained the Roman legions as they conquered the world. They're still widely consumed today.

I just love the textures of these foods, and in combination, they make a fabulous dish. What a wonderful recipe! Brava, Stacey!

Dana said...

Totally my kind of dish. There is a great farro grown in Winthrop, Washington, called Bluebird. Really tasty!

Anonymous said...

Diane - thank you for the directions for roasting the chickpeas. I couldn't remember where I had seen it. What temp did you set your oven?

Diane said...

To anonymous.....To roast the chickpeas: 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or till golden. But watch them, as ovens and pans differ in the way they bake. Roasting gives the chickpeas a wonderful flavor!