farro with cheese and herbs


Our usual formula around here is as follows.  I don’t think I like food.  I eat it in a way that I like/find a way to make it delicious.  I love said food.  But you know what guys?  I am kind of too tired to go down that path tonight.  I’m a little too tired to tell you about my general skepticism about all grains but pasta and rice and cous-cous until recently.  Work has been crazy, which in a way has been good, but has also been leaving me needing a little time to catch up on life and writing and cooking.  Gerrit’s work has been crazier, with lots of working weekends.  Also, we’ve done some traveling.

So even though I don’t really want to go down the path of  food revelation right now, I will tell you that my first experience with farro was a lovely one.  At Food Blog South this past January, our lunch consisted of a lot of delicious things, but what I remember the most and what I wanted more and more of was this little farro dish with butternut squash and all kinds of mushrooms and sage.  It was one of those things that I wanted to know how to make immediately, and I was going to figure it out.  But you know how good intentions go sometimes, and that has yet to happen.  (Sometime this fall though!  That is my goal!)

But in the meantime we have this farro dish, full of cheese with a hint of French herbs and topped with crunchy crusty bread.  This dish has convinced me even further: my feeling for farro are about as far as can be from some other trendy grains (yes, I’m talking about you quinoa).  Farro feels rich, full of bite while still being tender.  Indulgent enough for a spoon, but delicate enough for a fork.  And when you cream it up with cheese and add some sophistication with herbs, what you are really left with is a fully adult version of mac and cheese.  Although I’m pretty sure kids would like it as well, and I say that fully remembering my childhood taste buds.

Farro with Cheese and Herbs
from Giada de Laurentiis

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

Serves 6-8

1 lb. farro (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespooons)
2 cups (8 oz.) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) grated mozzarella
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 slices (1/2 inch thick) multi-grain or whole grain bread*
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter (or spray with cooking spray) a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  Set aside.
2. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cover the pot and simmer until the farro is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Drain in a colander.
3. In a large bowl combine the Cheddar cheese, mozzarella, whole milk, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.  Add the farro and stir together until the cheese is melted.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.  Arrange the bread pieces in a single layer on top of the farro and dizzle liberally with olive oil.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.  Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

*We used a white French bread because that’s what I had on hand.  I think all kinds of bread would work here, according to your taste.

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