Farro with Turnips and Greens
I am always looking for new and different sides that have more nutritional punch than your average rice, pasta or potato dish and leave guests satisfied and well, maybe a little impressed. This Farro with Turnips and Greens was inspired by a recipe by John and Tamar Adler featured in the December issue of Food and Wine. I did considerably alter it because I was missing some ingredients and, well, that is what I do.
So about those turnips. I think they may just be one of those foods that one loves or hates. I am not a particular fan, but this farro with turnips and greens may have converted me. My turnip loving husband could not get enough of this dish, crowing about how he loved the crunchiness of the farro and the overall flavor combination. He could not wait to eat the leftovers for lunch and then crowed again over google chat while he ate it. Admittedly, I find the turnips a bit hard to cut up into a 1/4 to 1/3 inch dice because I am knife skills challeged. They also do take a good 20 minutes to cook on the stove top before they are sufficiently browned and tender. But these tubers are a great source of vitamin c and dietary fiber once you’ve moved past these obstacles.
Farro is allegedly an ancient grain that is the grandmother to modern day wheat with twice the protein and fiber as it’s grandson. While it contains gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat and thus more digestible. Farro is also a good source for iron and magnesium. In this dish, as recommended by the Adlers the farro are toasted in the oven until aromatic and cooked until al dente, delivering a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
And the greens. You can use whatever combination strikes your fancy. I happened to have some collard greens, baby kale and spinach in my refrigerator so I added all three. You can also use turnip greens or swiss chard. I like the idea of including at least two different types to give it a little diversity.
The original recipe called for using red wine vinegar, but I was out of that so I just splashed in some old white wine hanging around my refrigerator to give it a little zip. I also added in a very little amount of cayenne and some paprika. I didnt’ have fresh parsley, so that got omitted, but I’d add it in next time if I had it.
One last thing. What I absolutely love about this dish is that you can serve it at room temperature where the flavor combinations taste the best. This means it is a perfect dish to have out for an open house party during the holidays where you set a buffet and people graze for hours. Unlike some dishes that decrease in tastiness the longer they sit out, this one gets better with age.
- 1 cup farro
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cups turnip, in ⅓ inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 5 cups greens (e.g., swiss chard, collard greens, kale, spinach, turnip greens)
- ⅛ tsp cayenne (or less)
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Salt and ground pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast farro on a cookie sheet or in roasting pan until fragrant, shaking pan periodically, about 12-15 minutes.
- Combine farro with 2-3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Drain and transfer to serving dish. Note: to achieve al dente, look at cooking directions on package and reduce cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add turnips, garlic and thyme and saute 2-3 minutes. Cover pan and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes until browned and tender, approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Add greens and saute until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add spices and wine and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
- Combine vegetables with farro and add additional salt and pepper and oil to taste.