RECIPE: Farro, Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gratin
This recipe was adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook, which was a happy find in my local library. The book is very utilitarian, and less beautiful than it is useful-as all America's Test Kitchen's materials are. This dish was in the vegetarian section. But I did not want to make it vegetarian, and I also was hesitant about adding broccoli rabe in the dish as the original recipe called for. I was not sure if my 9 year old was going to go for the bitterness. But I dug using farro with the Fontina, so I adapted it more for our family.
Farro is a great, ancient grain. It is different than whole wheat berries. The outer bran and germ is partially "buffed" out so that it takes less time to cook, often calling it "pearled" farro. Usually whole wheat berries take up to two hours to cook. True Italian farro only takes about 30 minutes or so. The Italian species is known to be more tender than regular wheat berries. I find it in the grocer's grain aisle. You may try whole foods or online to get it. It is a great substitute for risotto if you are trying to cut down on starch, as it has more fiber and protein. As I am on a whole grain diest at the moment, this dish fit the bill. The cheese was cheating, but worth every calorie!
Farro, Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gratin
2 tsp. olive oil1 onion, minced2 garlic cloves minced2 cups chicken broth (I use "Better than Bouillon")1 1/2 cups water1 cup grated Parmesanground pepper
For the Gratin:
1 lb. broccoli florets, large ones cut in half
2 tsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
3/4 cup grated fresh Fontina or Fontinella, not aged
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and onion and sauté until beginning to brown. Add the farro to the pan, lower heat slightly and toss until farro beginning to brown. Meanwhile, I heat up two cups of water to boiling and add 2 tsp. of Better Than Bouillon. Mix it up. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to that, and add it all to the pan when the farro is lightly brown, scraping the bottom. Simmer farro for about 20-35 minutes uncovered, or until all the liquid is absorbed and farro is tender yet chewy. Take off the heat, and toss in the 1 cup grated Parmesan and ground pepper. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, boil about 4 qts. water with 1 tsp. salt. Once you have a rolling boil, add the broccoli and blanch them in the hot water for about 5-8 minutes. Drain. Place your Dutch oven back onto the stove, and wipe the inside dry. Heat up the 2 tsp. olive oil in the same pot. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is beginning to brown. Toss in the drained broccoli, and stir until sizzling hot and evenly oiled. Add the drained and rinsed beans as well, and toss gently until they are heated through and everything is coated in oil.
Toss the broccoli mixture in with the farro mixture, and using two wooden spoons, toss around as you would a salad. Pour mixture evenly into a 3 qt boiler safe baking or casserole dish. Sprinkle the grated Fontina evenly over the top.
Turn your broiler on Low and make sure you have a rack about 6 inches away from the broiler. Broil the dish until the Cheese is melty, bubbly and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes or so. Serve warm.