Amanda knows all too well about my obsession with farro. I make it all the time just to have it around at home -- whether for a meal or a snack -- and I always order the house farro salad, which changes with the seasons, at Morandi, one of our favorite lunch spots. The other week, at a restaurant near me in Brooklyn, I tried a special appetizer of roasted mushrooms and farro. It ended up being more mushroom than farro, and while I might have preferred the opposite, the synthesis of flavors was spot on. The entire dish was perfumed with parmesan, which, instead of being grated, had been crumbled into tiny pebbles (my guess was that this was accomplished with a food processor, but it could have been chopped by hand).
The result was an earthy, umami-rich salad that may sound perfect for winter but was actually well-suited to dining al fresco on a balmy summer evening, thanks to a healthy dose of lemon juice and parsley. Below is my attempt to recreate the salad, using basically the opposite ratio of farro to mushrooms. I did mention I'm obsessed, right?
Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan
1 cup uncooked farro
1/2 pound wild mushrooms (use a mix of your favorites)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped or crumbled parmesan (not grated – you want a slightly coarser texture here)
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the farro and enough cold water to cover it by about an inch. Soak for 20 minutes. Drain well and return the farro to the pan, again covering it with cold water. Add a few generous pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the farro is tender but still has some bite.
2. While the farro is cooking, wipe and trim the mushrooms and then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently to distribute everything; spread the mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crisp around the edges and cooked through.
3. When the farro is cooked, drain it well and spread it on a clean baking sheet to cool. Do the same with the mushrooms once they are cooked. When the farro and mushrooms are close to room temperature, or just barely warm, combine them in a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing gently to combine. Then add the parmesan, parsley and a generous grinding of pepper and fold gently. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).