One-pot tomato farro

This past Sunday, after what felt like weeks of non-stop rain and 50 degree weather, we finally had a semi-nice day in NYC.

(As an aside, Saturday night I heard a girl telling her friends, “I just feel like last year…it was like…warmer?” Whatttttt no way! Maybe because it’s almost June??)

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All the pretty almost-summer colors!

Anyway, I was just settling in for a nice afternoon of Mindy Project on the couch, expecting more of the same dreariness, when my friend commanded me to get OFF the couch and meet him in outside. So instead of a lazy Sunday, I had to eat goat cheese and drink wine in Central Park. It was awful.

As a result, any involved dinner prep was absolutely out the window. On my to-cook list for sometime: various versions of so-called one-pot pasta. Confession: I have a phobia of one-pot pastas.

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I know, I know, the whole point is that they’re inherently easy and perfect for the average weeknight chef. But I just feel like I’m the kind of person who’ll end up with a pot full of water and mushy noodles an hour after it’s supposed to be done.

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Does anyone else use this trick? My friend taught me that if you place a wooden spoon across the top of a pot it stops it from boiling over

Nonetheless, last night I decided to conquer my fear of one-pot pastas with a Smitten Kitchen one-pot farro that involves mostly pantry ingredients and fresh produce.

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I feel like farro is a good introduction to the one-pot movement because you can’t really overcook it. (Can you? If so, report back.) Which means this recipe is basically a weeknight miracle: water, tomatoes, garlic and farro become a delicious risotto-like meal with a fragrant, flavorful sauce, in practically no time.

I also feel like you should make this tonight.

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One-pot tomato farro
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s one-pan farro with tomatoes)

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

2 cups water
1 cup semi-pearled farro*
1/2 large onion, I used yellow and Deb used white
2 cloves garlic
9 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
Up to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Place water and farro in a medium saucepan to presoak–the amount of time it takes to prep the ingredients, about 5-10 minute, is enough time. Add each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it.

Cut the onion in half again, and slice it thinly. Thinly slice garlic cloves. Halve  tomatoes, or quarter larger ones. Add salt, pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Bring uncovered pan up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, Deb says your farro should be tender with a bit of a chew and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. Mine took closer to 40 minutes (see note below). When there’s only a little excess cooking water you’ll know you’re done–it doesn’t have to be absolutely absorbed as it will continue to thicken once you turn the heat off.

If you do have an unwanted amount of cooking liquid, serve with a slotted spoon to leave behind. Scoop into bowls and serve with sliced basil leaves, and parmesan if using.

Protein serving suggestions: Italian sausages, chicken sausages, white fish.

*: I used Bob’s Red Mill organic farro and as far as I can tell there aren’t any indications on the package about whether it’s pearled, semi-pearled or otherwise. Deb says that no matter what type you’re using–or even if you’re using a different grain altogether–defer to the cooking time on the package. Mine said 30 minutes but as I’ve said, it will be obvious if it’s not done because it will still be very watery.

One-pan farro with tomatoes: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/07/one-pan-farro-with-tomatoes/

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