The Best Way To Cook Farro

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Talking about the best way to cook farro is a bit like talking about the best place to have a colonoscopy; useful information, perhaps, but not anything to get excited about. Hey, I shared your feelings until I had the privilege of cooking with the great American chef Suzanne Goin at the LA Times Book Festival last April. Right in front of my eyes, she prepared a farro salad with a garlic and parsley dressing that wasn’t punishing in any way; in fact, it was quite the opposite: light and herbal and fluffy and fragrant. The most shocking part? The highlight was the farro itself; each grain stood apart and was both tender and toothsome in a way most farro isn’t. I knew I had to learn the Suzanne Goin method for making it.

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Fun Times with Farro: Cauliflower and Cara Cara Oranges, Smoked Trout and Parmesan

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They say you’ve gotta know the rules before you break the rules and I think that’s true of cooking as much as it’s true of art or writing or any other discipline. Before you make deconstructed spaghetti and meatballs with foam and fruit leather and dehydrated beef essence, you should probably learn how to make the straightforward version. (Plus: the straightforward version is usually better.) Let’s say you’re hankering to be creative, though, and you want to flex your artistic cooking muscles. Then my advice is to master the art of blank canvas foods; the kinds of foods you can dress up however you want once you get the basic idea down. For me, that blank canvas food used to be pasta; but lately, on a California summer-is-coming health kick, I’ve been toying around with farro.

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Fun with Farro

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I’m starting to enjoy blank canvas foods like quinoa and farro and cous cous. (Autocorrect just tried to change that to “cous cows.”) The fun comes from dressing them up, like a Christmas tree or an Oscar nominee on Oscar night. The more ingredients you know to add to the mix, the more fun you can have. In all three cases, similar ingredients will work so what follows is a list of stuff you can stir into the mix to make things interesting and exciting and part of a wholesome weeknight dinner.

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