I’d dare to say that most of you don’t know what Farro is. Understandable. If you do, then you should agree with me that it’s an amazing thing. It’s a delicious grain that is hard to find in a lot of major supermarkets. I get it at specialty stores like Agata & Valentina’s on 79th and 1st and you might be able to get it at Whole Foods. It may be difficult for you to track down but you should definitely try. If you don’t find it anywhere near you, just buy it on Amazon, you could get a 3 pack of Roland Semi Pearled Farro from Italy for $21, do it, it’ll last. I first learned about it about 6 months ago and it immediately became one of my favorite things to eat. Every recipe online said to soak it for couple hours then boil it for another couple hours. I’m not about to do that, no way, no how. To me, it looked like Arborio rice (risotto rice) so I thought to cook it like risotto. First time I used it I made Red Wine “Farrotto”, ridiculous. But I drink white wine more than red so yesterday I made the following recipe with spinach. I usually use Kale or Swiss Chard but they’re a pain in the ass sometimes to clean. Spinach is easy. I personally think its best with Kale, booming with nutritiousness and deliciousness. Put a piece of fish on top and you’re a pro. I guarantee, once you try this recipe, Farro will be a staple in your kitchen! Looks hard to make? Its actually stupid how easy it is!
Serves 2 w/ leftovers
1 8-10 oz Wild Halibut fillet, cut into two pieces (Arctic Char is the best fish to use in my opinion but it looked pale, disgusting and not fresh at all at the market so I pulled an audible and grabbed Wild Halibut, go with whatever looks fresh, don’t settle for crap)
1 cup of Semi pearled Farro
1 large bunch of Organic Spinach (Make sure it’s cleaned, if not, clean it…feel free to use Kale, Swiss Chard, or any other leafy green…try something new for a change)
1-2 cups of White Wine that you like to drink
1 Onion chopped
4-6 cloves of Garlic, halved and thinly sliced (The more the better!)
½ cup Toasted Pine Nuts
4 cups of Vegetable Stock, on standby
A heaping pinch of Red Pepper Flake (Optional, I like it but I forgot to use it here just add it w/ the onions)
A drizzle of Agave Nectar or Honey (Optional, adds a little sweetness)
Salt and Pepper
A knob of Butter (I happened to have truffle butter, so I used that amazing shit)
First and foremost, get your stuff in place (see Mise en Place in the previous post) Slice cloves of garlic in half, peel off the paper, then thinly slice it (always be practicing your knife skills)
When you chop an onion, keep the stem connected and slice the top off. Slice in half, making several slices cross-wise up the onion, then slice it vertically, then run your knife through the onion to chop…it’s hard to explain…just look at the pictures.
So you got your onions and garlic prepped, just measure out your pine nuts and you got all your stuff in place and your ready to bang this dish out!
Put you big skillet on medium-high heat and when its hot, add a 3 count of olive oil, the chopped onions and sliced garlic and cook them until soft.
Add the Farro and try to get every grain nice and covered in oil.
Once the Farro gets nice a toasted (Do not burn it!), squeeze half of a big juicy lemon in, no seeds, and then add a cup or two of the white wine. When the wine starts to evaporate, add about 3 cups of the vegetable stock, no need to measure it, just use your judgment. If later you find you need more, you can always add it…its no problem. Keep and eye on it and cook, stirring every now and then, until it doesn’t taste raw in the middle. It supposed to be a little chewy, that’s one of the characteristics of Farro, its kind of why I love it!
While that cooks, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan (I encourage you try and show off and practice tossing, its part of what makes cooking fun). I like the use the same pan I intend on cooking my fish in. Just wipe the pan out with a paper towel when its done. Reserve 1/3 of pine nuts to sprinkle onto to finish the dish.
Keep checking the Farro and after about 20-30 minutes, it should be pretty cooked, if you can taste its still not cooked, let it go longer and if it needs more moisture, add more stock. When you think the Farro only needs a few more minutes, start prepping your fish. Since Halibut is a diesel sized fish, I usually ask for one nice sized filet and I cut it down the middle into two easy to cook pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the same pan you toasted the nuts on medium-high heat, add a lug of olive oil and drop the fish in the pan and season the other side with salt and pepper. Don’t fuss with them, let’em sear until they get some nice color, about 2-3 minutes a side in a nice preheated pan. Check the doneness by sorta peeking into the center of the fish and if it looks just undercooked, get it out of the pan because its perfect. Let it rest and it will continue to cook through and be moist and delicious.
If you planned it right, once you leave your fish out to rest, most of the stock should be absorbed and the Farro should be just about done. Add some of the Agave or honey, the spinach, 2/3 of the pine nuts, a knob of butter (I’m using truffle butter, oh yes!), a big ole handful of Parmesan cheese and season to taste. To plate, make a nice mound of Farro and top with the Halibut, one more squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of the remaining pine nuts.
Cook this recipe tomorrow and tell me how it went, what you think and what you might do different!