Rice & grains

Farro with sweet peas, fresh herbs and ricotta

Food and Style - Farro with Sweet Peas and Ricotta

It’s not easy to make whole grains taste light, or look sophisticated. Yet, they’re so satisfying – not to mention, good for us – that it’s certainly worth giving it a try.

As far as whole grains go, farro has been stealing the spotlight lately. Mostly grown in Italy, farro actually refers to several kinds of wheat – including emmer, einkorn and spelt – which have been cultivated in Europe since ancient times.

The most commonly grown wheat in Italy, and the one you’ll most likely end up buying, is emmer. It’s a fairly large grain, with a lovely nutty flavor and a pleasing, chewy texture. Emmer is best cooked in plenty of water until fluffed up but still al dente.

In today’s recipe, this fashionable grain is served with crunchy sweet peas and creamy ricotta (ideally, homemade!). The fresh herbs and lemony vinaigrette further brighten the flavors, making this dish as light and yummy as any whole grain could possibly taste.

Serve this quintessential spring dish as a salad, or as a main course, with these carrots and fennel braised with orange zest and honey. Either way, dig into this wholesome-yet-delicious bowl of farro. You’ll be glad you did!

Food & wine pairing: Trocken Silvaner with farro, sweet peas and ricotta

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For an article I wrote on Hans Wirsching‘s delicious Trocken Silvaner, and for pairing notes, click here!

Sweet peas

Farro with sweet peas, fresh herbs and ricotta

serves 4
active time: 40 min

For the farro

  1. 6 cups spring water
  2. 1 cup farro or barley (semi-pearled or pearled)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  4. 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and left whole
  5. 1 bay leaf

For the peas

  1. 1 teaspoon sea salt for the boiling water
  2. 6 oz (170 g) sugar snap peas – stems trimmed and cut on the diagonal in 1/4″ pieces
  3. 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (or frozen peas)
  4. 1/2 bunch fresh chives – cut in 1/16″ slices (use kitchen scissors) (1/4 cup)
  5. 6 large mint leaves – finely chopped
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

For the vinaigrette

  1. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (use microplane grater)
  2. 1 shallot – skinned and finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  3. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  4. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic or sherry vinegar
  6. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the garnishes

  1. 1/2 cup ricotta
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. fleur de sel or sea salt
  4. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  5. 2 oz (55 g) pea shoots (any kind of sprouts would be a good substitute) – stems trimmed to first leaf

  1. Step 1: To make the farro (or barley) – In a medium pot bring spring water to a boil. Add the grains, salt, garlic and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes until tender but still al dente. Drain well, remove bay leaf and garlic, and let cool for at least 15 minutes before assembling the dish.
  2. Step 2: While the farro is cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes.
  3. Step 3: Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and blanch the sugar snap peas and shelled peas (if using frozen peas, do not defrost) for 3 minutes, until tender but still a bit crunchy. Drain and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on paper towels. Once all excess water is removed, transfer to a large bowl and add the chives, mint, salt and olive oil. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
  4. Step 4: To make the vinaigrette – Place the lemon zest, shallots, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
  5. Step 5: When ready to serve – Add the warm grains to the peas. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and mix well. Spoon in bowls and top with fresh ricotta. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the ricotta, sprinkle with the fleur de sel and black pepper. Garnish with the pea shoots. Serve on its own as a salad, or with these carrots and fennel braised with orange zest and honey as a main course.

Food and Style - Farro with Sweet Peas and Ricotta

salad, farro, peas

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