I love April! The produce is back in full swing, the air is crisp and the sun is out like a welcome guest whom you actually want to overstay. Everything is blooming and full of bright hope. Yes, there is a sweetness in the air and a wonderful opportunity for trying new things.
I am in love with the heritage grains of Italy. Farro is my favorite. I first discovered it a few years ago and I fall in love with it everytime I eat it. It is so full of flavor, nutty, dense, rich and, yet, so light! For me it is the perfect grain. One that is hard to get back in the US, so I am indulging while I can. It is brilliant to make farrotos (like this awes0me one!) or simple grain salads like this one.
Bursting with the colors and flavors of the season, I have been making this farro version so many times lately. So, I felt it was only appropriate to share the bounty with you! Meanwhile, artichokes are back in season and this time, the little baby ones are totally calling me. And, unlike the globes, they are much easier to prep and have a soft, delicate taste. It works as a great balance to the rich, deepness of the farro itself!
Buttered Baby Artichoke with Farro Primavera
serves 2 as main and 4 as first course
4 baby artichokes
3/4 cup raw farro, soaked in water for an hour
1-1/4 cup of water
8-10 stalks asparagus, cut in to 1/2 inch pieces
1 red pepper
1/2 medium fennel, diced small
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
salt, pepper, butter and good olive oil
1/2 a lemon
Peel the outer leaves of the baby artichokes until the yellow underside of the purple leaves is visible. Trim the spiky tops off and slice in half. Rub lemon juice all over to prevent oxidization. Prep all the artichokes the same way and set aside.
In a pot, saute the fennel until soft in a little olive oil. Add the pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then add the diced pepper and asparagus and give it a quick saute until just softened. Remove and reserve.
In the same pot, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. Drain the farro and add to the pot. Lightly saute to coat evenly. Add water and season with salt. Bring the water to a boil and then cover let the farro cook in simmering heat until al dente, about 20 minutes.
When the water has evaporated, add the reserved cooked vegetables. Drizzle olive oil generously and toss gently. Let is sit on low heat while you cook the asparagus.
In a pan, melt 2 teaspoons of butter and arrange the asparagus cut side down to sear on medium heat. Turn the pieces over, add two tablespoons of water, cover with lid. Let the artichoke cook in the steam for about 5 minutes.
When ready to serve, divide the farro into bowls. Top with the buttered artichokes and serve. Add fresh grated parmegianno regianno if desired!