Farro has a long history but it was a grain that almost disappeared, losing its position to modern strains of easier to hull wheat. There also seems to be quite a bit of confusion to its identity with many calling it spelt.
This confusion isn't helped when even the packet this came in describes it as Spelt (farro) even though it is being sold as Farro. If we listen to Harold McGee he will say that farro is Emmer wheat and that spelt is mistakenly called farro because spelt is the English translation of the Italian word farro.
If we go to the Latin genus/species names then spelt is Triticum spelta whereas Emmer wheat is Triticum dicoccum so one way we might finally bring an end to this confusion is by having manufacturers/growers listing the Latin name on their product.
Now, if that hasn't confused the issue, then the dish I've made won't help - I've made Farro Risotto!
1 red onion, diced finely
1 small stick celery, diced finely
3 large button mushrooms, diced
1 cup farro
parsley leaves, roughly chopped
stock or water
smoked provolone, cut into small cubes (or use grated parmesan)
oyster mushrooms, sliced
fresh sage leaves, finely sliced
While this won't end up as creamy as a regular risotto as the grains have a firmer texture, it follows the method used in making risotto.
Cook the oyster mushroom garnish:
This needs to be done just before the farro risotto is ready.
In a skillet, add a little olive oil and a knob of butter and place on medium heat. When the butter has melted and is beginning to sizzle, tip in the sliced sage leaves. Stir the leaves and then add in the sliced oyster mushrooms. These need to be cooked quickly so they brown but not release their juices. Once they are golden, remove from the heat - they are ready to be used.
Cook the farro risotto
Place a little oil and a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat - when the butter has melted add in the onion and celery. Sauté gently until they soften and have just started to colour. Add in the chopped button mushrooms and cook until they have softened.
Sprinkle in the farro and cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until lightly toasted. Ladle in a little simmering stock (or hot water) and allow it to be absorbed before adding another ladle. Repeat this process until the grains are tender - this will take somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.
When it's almost cooked, add some chopped fresh parsley leaves - stir well and then add in the cubes of smoked provolone (or grated parmesan). Stir again to mix the cheese into the risotto and it's now ready to be served.
Place into bowls topped with the oyster mushroom garnish.
The cheese helps to give the dish that missing creaminess and the farro has a nutty quality which works well with the earthy flavour of mushrooms.