Posted by Lauren
Italy: Land of Farro and Unicorns
I first heard about farro from Ashley, who recommended purchasing this bag at COSTCO. A couple of months ago, I spotted it in the warehouse shelves and grabbed a bag, determined to find something to do with it.
Fast forward a few weeks and all I’ve done is use a few spoonfuls in my oatmeal (boil farro in water, add mashed banana, voila – delicious, btw).
What is farro exactly? It is a grain that is cooked in water until soft. Depending on the general size, there are three grains that represent farro: emmer, einkorn, and, most commonly, spelt. You can ground farro into flour (doing that next) or sprinkle it on to salads. Farro is very versatile.
Freshman year in high school we had to create a “Me Book” in religion class. One of the pages in my book described our ideal vacation. At the time my dance studio, The Joy of Dancing, was taking a trip to Italy. I wanted to go so badly, but I had already gone on a dancing/touring trip to Germany two years prior.
I took their trip itinerary and basically copied it into the book, pasting pictures of Florence and adding Lisa Frank stickers of unicorns. What did the unicorns add? Maybe they were evidence of how geeky I was as a freshman… or the magic Italy radiates? Regardless, I have yet to travel to Italy and I would LOVE to.
In the meantime, I’ll make this Cheesy Spinach and Farro Bake and collect more Lisa Frank stickers.
Cheesy Spinach and Farro Bake
150 g cheese (60 g parmesan, 90 g mozzarella)
135 g farro
150 g greek yogurt
40 g hummus*
100 g spinach
2 T milk*
1 t spices*
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup bread crumbs*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Measure out all of your ingredients. Mix the two cheeses together and remove 20 g of the mixed cheese and reserve.
In a large stock pot, boil 2 cups of water. Once boiling, add the farro. Reduce the heat to low, partly cover, and let cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pulse spinach in a food processor for about 8 seconds.
While the farro cooks, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the hummus, greek yogurt, milk, and pepper. Make sure that you do not allow the mixture to boil. Once combined, take the sauce off the heat.
When the farro has finished cooking, drain (if necessary) and place the farro into the yogurt/hummus mixture. Add the cheese, spinach, spices, and more pepper (if desired). Stir until combined and then pour into the prepared 8×8 pan.
Before placing the pan into the oven, sprinkle the reserved 20 g cheese mixture on top. Then, add a layer of breadcrumbs.
Bake for 25 minutes, pull out of the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes before digging in!
This was absolutely delicious and would make a hearty side to any meal. The combination of the semisoft, Italian mozzarella cheese with the harder, dry Italian parmesan works so well with the chewy farro. The spinach adds a punch of healthy, and the heat from the hummus and spices gives it that little something unexpected. I loved the random breadcrumb mixture I used but I’m positive any breadcrumbs will produce the same effect – a slightly crunchy top crust. I’m planning on eating this as lunch leftovers for the week!
*Hummus: I used spicy red pepper hummus but you can use any kind you like.
*Milk: I used almond milk but any milk will do.
*Spices: Depending on the desired result, mix up the spices! I wanted to complement the spicy red pepper hummus so I used 1/4 t curry powder, 1/8 t cayenne pepper, and 1/8 t ground red pepper. I imagine that thyme, basil, ground mustard seed, sage, rosemary, onion powder, and/or garlic powder would make great additions and would complement plain hummus or pesto hummus well. It’s totally up to you!
*Bread crumbs: I used the leftover breading mixture from the ahi tuna Kyle prepared. The mix contained: ground pecans, unsweetened organic coconut, and panko.
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