Appetizer: Farro Salad with Mushrooms and Fennel

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Farro is ancient wild wheat, grown since prehistoric times in the Mediterranean region.
This dish is cooked like a risotto, but it doesn’t require as much attention during cooking and can also sit a while before serving.
  • 1 head fennel, quartered lengthways through the stem so that it stays together
  • 1 pound Shitake mushrooms,
  • Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat a grill to high; toss the fennel in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill over high heat until slightly charred on the edges
  3. Repeat with the mushrooms
  4. When both are cool enough to handle, cut through with sharp knife into bite-size pieces
  5. Cut the mushrooms into similar-sized chunks.
  6. This can be prepared well in advance and left at room temperature until required.
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, crushed
  • 1 lb. Farro
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup or more freshly grated feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat; add half the olive oil, onion and garlic.
  2. Cook until aromatic and the onion has softened. Add the dried porcini, Farro and thyme; season with salt
  3. and pepper, stir to coat everything in the oil.
  4. Pour in enough stock to just cover the Farro. Continue cooking uncovered, maintaining a steady simmer, stirring from time to time and adding more stock as required, à la risotto style
  5. After about 25 -30 minutes the Farro will start to become chewy-tender; at this point do not add anymore stock.
  6. Continue cooking until the remaining stock has almost been absorbed by the Farro.
  7. If you find the Farro still too firm, add a small amount of stock and cook a little longer. When you are satisfied that the Farro has a pleasant chewy-tender texture, stir in well and remove from the heat
  8.  Add in the grilled mushrooms and fennel
  9. Leave for a minute and then stir in the mustard and the lemon juice.
  10. Finish by Garnishing with the crumbled goat cheese and serve

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