Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Farro with Dried Porcini and Sage

Farro is one of the oldest wheat varieties. In recent years it has become very popular, especially among vegetarians and foodies who always look for new sources of nutritional values, as farro is an excellent source of fiber, minerals, and vitamin B.

In the modern cuisine farro is often used in place of traditional grains, especially rice. It is easy to cook and more forgiving as it is hard to overcook it. Cooked farro has a stronger taste and firmer texture than rice but some appreciate it for those qualities. For the same reason it is also often used in salads.

One of the way to serve farro is a dish similar to risotto but lighter since it does not include cream or cheese. This particular dish is made with dried porcini, so popular in both Polish and Italian cuisines. If you don't have dried porcinis, you may make it with white cup mushrooms (about 1/2 lb). The recipe calls for sage leaves which give that dish a very nice seasonal flavor. It can be served alone, as a vegetarian dish or to accompany roasted meats.

Farro with Dried Porcini and Sage

1 cup farro, washed,
1/3 cup dried porcini soaked for 1 hour in 1/2 cup of cold water,
4-5 cups vegetable or beef stock,
1 small onion, chopped,
6-8 fresh sage leaves, cut into strips,
1/4 cup plus extra 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil,
salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. In a large pot heat half of the oil. Add chopped onion and fry until transparent. Add sage leaves and fry for another minute.
2. Add farro and the rest of the oil to the pot. Stir it so farro is well coated with oil.
3. Drain and cut porcini into thin strips. Add them to farro. If you like a stronger taste add also the water in which the porcini were soaked.

4. Pour in 2 cups of stock and bring farro to boil, then let it simmer on a low heat stirring frequently. Follow with the rest of the stock until farro becomes tender. This will take 40-50 minutes.
5. Serve the dish hot drizzled with 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and decorated with sage leaves fried in butter.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Turnip Lasagna

I have never tried turnip before but this month I ate it already twice. Last week, my Afghan friend invited my whole family for dinner and, at my request, she made a very autumnal dish made from turnip and meat. It was very aromatic and delicious and I will post a recipe for it as soon as I get all the details of it.

Yesterday, I made a dish that I will share today. It was inspired by a recipe from an Italian cooking magazine, but I made a lighter, vegetarian version of it just to use a box of an already opened ricotta cheese. The dish is easy to make and can be prepared ahead. It can be served alone, as a gluten free vegetarian main course, or served with breads.

Turnip Lasagna

4 medium turnips, sliced in 1/8th inch-thick slices,
2 cups milk,
16 oz ricotta cheese,
1 large (27 oz) can of crushed tomatoes,
2 tbsp olive oil,
2 garlic cloves, minced,
1/3 cup shredded asiago cheese,
salt and pepper to taste,
fresh parsley to garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Place the sliced turnip in a medium pot and cover with milk. Bring to boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, until just softer but still firm. After that, drain the milk.
3. In another pot, heat the oil, add garlic and fry it for 2-3 minutes. Pour in tomatoes and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
4. Place 1/2 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a medium oven-proof dish. Spread a third of the turnip slices. Then on each slice spread half of the ricotta cheese.

5. Put another layer of turnip slices. Cover them with another layer of ricotta and then again with turnips. Generously season with salt and pepper on top.
6. Pour over the rest of the tomato sauce and finish with the shredded asiago cheese.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until lasagna bubbles. Remove the foil and let the cheese melt until it turns gold.
8. Cool the lasagna and serve with chopped parsley on top.