Warm Farro Salad

Combining olive oil, anchovies, fennel, pine nuts, golden raisins and saffron is a classic Italian moveA couple of really talented Italian cooks introduced it to my world years ago and I've made riffs off of it ever since. Classically, it's used as a sweet, savory, briny sauce in which to bathe fresh sardines. It's also commonly slicked onto warm linguine strands - so good. But it occurred to me after noshing on just-cooked sweet and chewy Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Farro, that the two would get along brilliantly. A little bit of tinkering confirmed it - the sweet, nutty Emmer grains are a perfect compliment. 

Because farro takes about two hours to cook, I often make it in advance in larger quantities and keep it in the fridge.  That way, it's easy to use it in an impromptu meal without much preparation.

Warm Farro Salad
Serves 4-6

2 cups Bluebird Grain Farms Farro
8 cups meat or vegetable stock, or water
1/2 bulb fennel with the fronds
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins, softened in cold water
1/4 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring the farro and stock or water to boil for 5 minutes. Adjust the heat down and simmer for 2 hours, or until the grains are chewy and tender. Set aside, reserving the cooking broth.

Remove fronds from the fennel bulb and chop, set aside. Blanch the fennel bulb for 10 minutes, then drain, squeeze dry and roughly chop.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil, then add the anchovies. Add the onion and gently cook for 10 minutes.

Add the saffron, pine nuts, raisins and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped fennel and fronds, Piment d'Espelette, then add salt and pepper to taste. With a slotted spoon, add the cooked farro to the sauce pan and stir to incorporate. You can use some of the reserved farro broth to further moisten the finished dish if you like.

More ways to use this dish:
-Top your warmed leftovers with a fried or poached egg for an easy morning meal.
-Spoon it over a cast-iron cooked lamb chop and hit it with a dollop of warm créme fraiche and a sprinkling of mint. 
-Use it as a stuffing for roasted peppers, onion, pork loin or squid.

More destinations for Bluebird Grain Farms Farro:
-Use farro just as you would rice in a warm spiced pudding.  
-Braise farro along with stew meat and vegetables of choice for a succulent stew.  
-Substitute farro in place of arborio rice in your next risotto (noting a longer cook time)


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