It’s a new year, and what better way to kick things off than with a massive snowstorm blanketing the Northeast? Oh, and with farro. Because it’s healthy and all. In all seriousness, you’ve heard me talk about my newfound love of this stuff before (thanks, awesome mom-in-law!). Nothing has changed, and since it is a new year, and many people have new year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, or what have you, I figured I’d start the year off on a good foot.
Before I dive in, let me take you back to a younger Allison who was straight out of college, starting her first full-time job in trade magazines, and was…gulp…living on her own. I absolutely loved every minute of my life back then, but what I didn’t always love was being broke. To paint a picture, there was a stretch of time when I had a $30-per-week food budget. And, hey, I was really into couponing back then, so I made it work. So, what does $30 a week get you when you’re fresh out of college and learning to cook yourself meals? Pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. Bottom line: If I had known about farro back then, you can bet your sweet keister I would have been stocking up on that stuff instead. But, alas, times were different back then.
Whenever I’m lacking inspiration for dinner, I’ve automatically found myself making this garlic and parmesan farro.
Warning: This dish is not for non-garlic lovers (so, you know, vampires). There’s an obscene amount of garlic in here. Like, enough to make any Italian (from Italy…not from Bloomfield, NJ, or something) shake their head and say, “Ugh, these Americans don’t know how to cook garlic properly. They use too much!”
So, how much garlic is too much (or not too much)? Eight cloves. Eight giant cloves of the sweet pungent stuff. Of course, you can scale it back if you’re feeling so inclined, but then please don’t hold me responsible for any vampires who many show up on your doorstep. Just sayin’!
In my mind, I like to think of this dish as modern-day non-pasta peasant food. There are only seven ingredients: farro, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper. Pretty standard fair, but the flavor is just out of this world. It’s simple to put together, and can be doctored up a million different ways. But, like I said, I prefer the simple “peasant” version because this is often what I make when I’m feeling uninspired and just need something that’s easy and I know works. Well, this works.
Not for nothing, but farro itself takes a while to cook. Don’t expect it to be finished quickly like white rice. (By the way, has anyone else noticed how out of favor rice has fallen? It’s kind of sad, but I also realize that I’m contributing to its demise with this farro recipe, so I’ll shut up about this now.)
It took me about 35-40 minutes to cook my farro, which I cook at a 3:1 ratio with water. You could use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water, but again, I like going the peasant route here. So, while you’re waiting for the farro to cook, here are several things you can do with your time:
1) Read up on new and exciting ways to cook rice, because you feel bad for neglecting it.
2) Realize that there’s a whole gluten-free section in your grocery store that probably sells several rice-based foods and, therefore, think about exploring that area for inspiration during your next shopping trip.
3) Install new batteries in your laser pointer (estimated time to completion: 1 minute) and spend the next 39 minutes watching your cat jump on the walls trying in vain to catch a red dot that will always be out of reach.
4) Think about how you’re NOT fulfilling your New Year’s resolution of being more active because you’re sitting on the couch with a laser pointer while your cat gets all the exercise you should really be getting.
In all seriousness, cooking the garlic is the trickiest part of this whole endeavor, and it’s not even really that tricky. Once you mince up eight garlic cloves (obscene!), throw it into a small pan with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Turn the heat on low and cook for about five minutes JUST until some of the really tiny garlic pieces have started to ever-so-slightly darken around the edges. But, the majority of the garlic should have turned a darker yellow. It should NOT be golden brown. If it gets too brown, it’ll be a little bitter. You just want the color of slightly-darker-than-raw garlic here.
I also recommend salting at the end, since everyone’s parmesan cheese will vary in saltiness. As for herbs, I’m happy to just throw some parsley in there and call it a day, but you can use whatever you’d like. Chives would be good here, too.
At the moment, Ben and I are eating this about once a week. It also easily doubles or triples in quantity depending on how many you need to feed. This is very forgiving and can totally be doctored to your specific tastes and preferences, so I encourage you to use this as a basic template and go from there.
Happy New Year, everyone! May we all have peace and prosperity and plenty of batteries for our lazy pointers (oops, I mean laser pointers).
Start your New Year off the healthy way with this simple garlic and parmesan farro. This is incredibly easy to make and really filling. It'll fit in line with any healthy New Year's resolutions.
- 1 cup farro
- 3 cups water
- 8 garlic cloves, minced (or as close as minced as you can get)
- 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- In a medium-sized pot, add the farro and water. Give it a stir, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the farro is tender, about 35-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium heat until shimmering (but not smoking). Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and turn the heat down to low.
- Cook the garlic, swirling the pan or stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. The garlic is done when it has turned a darker yellow than regular garlic, but NOT golden brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- When the farro is done, add the garlic and all the oil from the pan, as well as the parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper. Stir to combine. Before you add the salt, taste the farro and see if it still needs salt. Then start with 1/4 tsp of salt, taste it, and add more if needed.
- Serve immediately.
You can use this as a base recipe and doctor it up any way you'd like. Also, I frequently just eat this as a main course on its own, but it would make a great side dish as well. It easily scales up for serving larger crowds.