I think that every food blogger looks at the Smitten Kitchen and lusts for a fraction of its success. Deb Perelman has been doing her thing from her galley kitchen for nearly a decade and has built a fiercely loyal readership. Her 2012 cookbook marked a turning point for food bloggery, showing the world that we were not just amateur clowns in our kitchen, but people that cooked and could write about it.
Everything at the Smitten Kitchen is about minimalism. The site design is clean and uncluttered (as opposed to ours), the recipes and descriptions are tight and well-written, and the photography is great. Basically, it’s everything that Al Dente is not, which is probably why we struggle to grow and she has a colossal fan base.
Anyhow, I mention Smitten Kitchen because her recipe for farro with tomatoes brought me back to an ingredient I got crazy about a few years ago: farro. The ancient grain is packed with protein and fiber, and enhances the sauces it is cooked in by expelling starch and thickening it. In this particular dish, it does something awesome. It emits its natural starches into the stock and tomatoes, then absorbs the liquid and flavors. The end result is a well-balanced, complex flavor and the regret of eating it all for dinner and not having for lunch the next day.
WHAT WORKED: Wegmans. I know, right? For all of the complaining I do, here’s a compliment. Deb at Smitten Kitchen points out that semi-pearled farro is the desired type of grain for this dish. And, that’s the type of farro that Wegmans stocks in its grocery aisle for $2.99 per package. How do you know it’s semi-pearled? As Deb explained, unpearled farro takes 60 to 80 minutes to cook, semi-pearled takes about a half-hour, and pearled takes 15 minutes. You want the semi-pearled here and Wegmans makes that happen.
WHAT DIDN’T: Not much.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Really easy.
BEST FOR: A meatless dinner or an all-purpose side dish.
SERVE WITH: Plenty of grated cheese.