Groovin’ With Grains

I’m not the crunchy granola type, but I’ve found decent whole wheat pasta, whole wheat couscous, and (maybe because my ancestors were Scots) I love barley. Bring on the bulgar! Smooches for spelt! Tonight, thanks to Lidia Bastianich, I’m fooling around with farro. It’s a kind of whole wheat barley, so packed with nutrients that it alone, with a few lentils, will keep you alive forever. And hot and lean forever.

Two nights ago we made Lidia’s “Farro With Pork Stew Potenza Style.” Well, the pork stew was ridiculously good and easy, but Dio Mio, we had to slum it with (white) rice. I was intrigued by farro, so yesterday we headed out to the local Whole Foods, and yes they had it — five bucks for a pound bag. Whoa, I was unworthy.

I hate to type, but I figure you’d like to read the whole label.










“Montebello is an Italian classic. A monestary built in 1388 where authentic artisan famers use long forgotten Old World techniques to create premium 100% Italian foods full of distinctive flavors and aromas…And not far from the summit, overlooking the Adriatic, grow acres and acres of organic Farro and , that sustained the Roman legions centuries ago.”

The package said I should soak it for eight hours, then simmer for thirty minutes. I soaked it for an hour and cooked it for forty-five minutes, with a bay leaf and some fresh thyme , rosemary and oregano from my garden, A small blast of lemon juice and some parm — tastes fab, It has that creamy graininess with a teeny bit of bite that a well-made rissoto flaunts. But, amici: buy a cardboard cylinder of Uncle Ben’s Barley, cook it the same way and you’ll have the same end product. Not organic, sure, and not blessed by 14th century monks, but cheaper and with comparable food value.

Here it is plated up with the pork stew and a tomato/scallion/basil/ricotta salad.









Notice that half slice of buttered bread at the top of the plate? I decided to go all responsible tonight and made  the Light Whole Wheat Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. I should have fussed more about the crust, but I didn’t. The flavor and grain is good, but I’m eating it warm so I can’t make a judgement on it’s quality until tomorrow, when it’s cool. All I ask for is a few decent slices for toast and a tuna salad sandwich.








I’ve got to say, whole grains make you feel full, which is why they’re so valuable, globally, as a food source. On the other hand, they’re making me wonder why I don’t own Birkenstocks and sport temp henna tatoos. But, it was all good and I won’t need a late night snack tonight.




Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Books, Food, Home

7 responses to “Groovin’ With Grains

  1. Oh, my Green, Grain Dear!

    You have certainly made farro sound charming—I’ll repeat the word like a mantra, as I did Keen—waaaa a couple of years ago, when I just HAD to go find some. And the tidy little grains still languish in the unopened Amish Market bag. Same as does the couscous, which I laid out several weeks ago, thinking of the lovely supper of peppers and pork to be laid gently upon its golden bosom. The elegant salad of cucumbers and tomatoes needed only the make-and-cool, and I seem to wait too late in the day, so we ate the veggies in a plain salad.


  2. PS has anyone else mentioned that once a paragraph rises above the upper margin of this comment box, it’s gone forever, past proof-reading? And then, just now, I had to go ahead an post the above, because the cursor had jumped back to the first word, and there was no way THEN to get to the bottom.

    Ineptitude, thy name is mine.

  3. Can I have the recipe for the stew?

  4. Kim Shook

    I, like Rachel, have a cabinet full of languishing grains and pasta items. We DO use couscous a lot, because it’s as fast (but much tastier than) as Minute Rice and we like it hot or cold. Haven’t tried farro yet, but oddly enough Jessica mentioned wanting to try it at dinner last night. I’ll direct her here!

  5. I tried farro at a new local restaurant. They plated it with cool apple slaw and a fried soft shell crab (last of the season!) Oh yeah, I was one happy camper.

  6. Welcome, Jess! Wow, I’d have been a happy camper too — sounds delish.

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