November 14, 2009

An ancient grain gets a delicious makeover

One of the most intriguing culinary trends seen this past year was the use of “ancient grains” such as quinoa, kamut, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat and farro. These hearty, nutrient-rich whole grains add unbelievable texture to recipes. If you are looking to break out of a pasta or rice rut, why not give one of these “ancient grains” new life in a modern dish.

This simple, yet decadent recipe uses the robust ancient Mediterrenean grain farro, and pairs it with cubes of ricotta salata, a dry salted ricotta cheese that has a sharp, almost tangy flavor.


1 cup farro, rinsed
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cubed ricotta salata
2/3 cup toasted coarsely chopped walnuts
2/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup julienne cut moist-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette:

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons honey
1 small clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Garnish: Sprigs of flat leaf parsley or fresh oregano

1. Place farro, water, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.
2. While farro is cooking, place all remaining salad ingredients except dressing in a medium serving bowl. After farro is cooked, spoon into a colander and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Place warm farro in serving bowl with other ingredients and stir to blend.
3. Combine all dressing ingredients except oregano in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in fresh oregano. (note: if you use dried oregano, you can just add to the rest of ingredients in blender)
4. Add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

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