Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cheesy Baked Farro

Farro.  Have you had it before?  I hadn't, until today.  On my travels up in Cleveland, I ran across a bag of farro and bought it with this recipe in mind.  In case you haven't heard of farro before, it is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor and firm texture.  It also happens to be one of the first cultivated grains of ancient Italy.  It is used in salads, pilafs, soups, and also in place of pasta.
 I'm always a little skeptical to introduce new foods to my picky family, so I thought this recipe was perfect. A big douse of cheese is always a good way to introduce anything, right?

Cheesy Baked Farro
Adapted from Giada at Home
4-6 servings

Vegetable oil cooking spray
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups warm milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cups low-soldium chicken broth
2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cups assorted mushroooms, cleaned and sliced
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
2 -1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For the sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 8 minutes (do not allow the mixture to boil).  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

For the farro:  In an 8-quart stockpot, bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the farro, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain if necessary.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until tender.  Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender.

In a large bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese, Fontina cheese, and thyme.  Remove 1 /2 cup of the  mixture and set aside.  Add the cooked farro, sauce, and mushroom mixture to the cheeses.  Stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup reserved cheese mixture.  Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.  

Bake until the top is golden brown and forms a crust, 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before servings.
Notes/Results:  It looks very brown and unappetizing, but I promise that it is delicious.  I really loved the nutty taste of the farro combined with the nuttiness of the cheese.  In fact, the whole family enjoyed it.  This is something that I would definitely make again!

I made quite a few changes to the original recipe.  I halved the recipe, leaving out the mushrooms and using diced canned tomatoes in place of fresh cherry tomatoes.  I also subbed out extra Parmesan in place of the Gruyere (which I didn't have on hand).  Other than that, the only other change I made was to add more chicken stock to the farro so that the chicken stock didn't cook out and in addtion, I cooked the farro a little longer, until tender, about a total of 30-35 minutes.
Now cooking the recipes of Giada De Laurentiis


  1. I don't think it looks too bad...and if you say it's delicious, then that's good enough for me! I've never had farro...I'll keep my eyes peeled. :D

  2. Really interesting and it looks delicious! Thanks, Kim!

  3. There's something inviting about a browned cheesy topping!

    I wish I had access to a wider variety of grains and such like farro and quinoa. I'd give this a try for sure.

  4. Kim, I've heard Giada speak about and cook with farro several times. I had never heard of it before her mention of it. I'm glad that you made this and shared it; the oozing cheese won my poor, deprived dieting heart and tummy at first sight! I will be able to eat wonderful cheese dishes again in the future I hope! Thanks for stopping by today; I hadn't heard from you in a long time and hope you're doing nicely these last days of January!


  5. I've never heard of farro, but with all that cheese, I know I'd eat it!

  6. mmmm, it looks and sounds so filling and cheesy. i've never had farro before, but i know that i like gruyere and fontina, so i'm pretty sure i would gobble this up. it's so fun to try new things!

  7. I've heard of but never had farro. And yes, smothering something in cheese is ALWAYS a good place to start!

  8. I love farro--and gooey, baked cheesy works for me. This looks like a perfect comfort food side dish with some good fiber in it too. ;-)

  9. Aren't you the intrepid one. I've had a recipe for farro risotto bookmarked forever, but keep forgetting to make a trip to the Italian deli to pick some up. My mother used to like a sweet pie made with farro; I didn't care for it, but think I'd like farro in a savory dish. Glad you enjoyed yours. The cheese was how I got into eating grits. A good trick.

  10. A big helping of cheese in a dish, is always a good way to introduce a new food to the family.

    I have eaten faro on one or two occasions and really liked it. I have never made it myself. Looks like I need to change that soon.

  11. I haven't tried Farro yet either. I'm sure my family would like it made this way too.

  12. I've never tried farro, but this looks like a very comforting and hearty dish.
    *kisses* HH

  13. I have never made these but I think it is time to give it a try. It sounds yummy good.

  14. Some things are hard to photograph - I know!
    But it sounds delicious, I have always wanted to try farro. The closest we can find here is spelt or kamut.

  15. I just tried the faux grain, quinoa so this one shouldn't be too farro behind. (groan - sorry, couldn't resist)

  16. I love farro! I am wondering how this would taste without the sauce. just all herbed and cheesed.

  17. Gosh, didn't for one minute think that lovely brown, cheesy topping looked the least bit unappetising. I was queuing up with my plate before I even read a word. I've never tried farro, but have been meaning to for ages, so I have to try this. As you say, loads of cheese is a great way to introduce new foods. Loading things up with broccoli is my sure-fire way of getting my picky eater to try new things :-)
    Sue xo

  18. I've never had farro, but I'm always willing to try something new!! Add the cheese and it can't be bad, right!!??


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