Farro & Away

I don’t want to give the impression that things around Chez Wetzel are always complicated, and full of fancy brining techniques, tacos with multiple components, and the like. Sometimes it is, but sometimes things are way simple.

And even though I have a freezer FULL of meat that I fully intend to eat, thanks to my CSA, sometimes we still eat vegetarian, even in this house of avid meat-eaters.

Simple doesn’t have to mean boring, run of the mill food. Simple doesn’t have to mean cereal or spaghetti with Newman’s Own red sauce that’s been in the cupboard for years. Although let’s make this clear as a bell – I will quickly devour either of those dishes and have on many occasion.

But sometimes, I enjoy the promise of a one-dish-meal that allows me to get some protein, some veggies, and to use some fancy ingredients that have been hanging out alongside that store-bought pasta sauce.

Enter tahini and pomegranate molasses – both jars whose contents are used far less often than they should be. The tahini? Sure, I’ve made some hummus with it a time or two, but those ground sesame seeds have more or less just taken up room in the cupboard. And the pomegranate molasses? Let’s just say that I prefer my molasses as plain as day, although this dish almost led me to reconsider.

Here though, a simple-appearing dish of healthy grains dresses up a little bit and for just a moment, it seems fancy.

Fancy, but easier to make than simple syrup. This little dish smells like a trip to an exotic island, it tastes nutty thanks be to the sesame and the toasted farro, and the drizzle of molasses atop the bowl adds a perfect amount of sweetness and tang. The farro is soft, but not too soft, and firm enough that it has a springiness when bitten. To look at it, you’d never expect it to evoke anything really exciting, but it does.

Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make it all worth living, not to mention making all those fancy things all the more special.

And with that, we’re off! In fact, we may even be in Oregon by now, speeding down the road with the top down, if it’s warm enough. Hopefully we’ll make a stop for cheese, gorgeous views of the coast, and some Oregon beer. Be sure to hop on the new facebook page, where I’ll try to update our travels from Portland to LAX and everywhere in between.

Toasted Farro w/ Greens & Tahini
Adapted from Kevin Gillespie via Food & Wine; September 2010; serves 2-4

printable version

3/4 cup farro
1 T tahini
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T canola oil
2 packed c spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 c parsley leaves
1/4 c fennel fronds
2 T fresh lemon juice
Pomegranate molasses, for drizzling

In a saucepan, cover the farro with water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat until just tender, 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small sheet pan or bowl. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until chilled.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of water with the tahini and olive oil.

In a skillet, heat the canola oil. Add the farro in an even layer and cook over high heat, stirring once, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and the greens and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the greens are just tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, fennel fronds, and the tahini mixture and remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt. Transfer the farro to a bowl, drizzle with pomegranate molasses and serve.

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