Farro—a grain similar to but not the same as barley, emmer, and spelt—has a good deal of substance. Rich and creamy things, such as the ricotta amped up with pesto in this recipe, are complementary. Use a good, fresh-made ricotta that’s light and fluffy, rather than grainy and dense. For the vegetables, instead of the carrots, beans, and potatoes here, asparagus and snap peas are terrific, as are chunks of ripe tomato, summer squash, roasted winter squash, or any type of leftover roasted vegetables. Lastly, farro shouldn’t be added straight to boiling water, or the insides will split the husks open. Cover it with cold water and place over the heat so that the grains heat up gradually, and the result will be much more attractive.
- 2 cups farro
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces small to medium carrots of different colors
- 6 ounces green beans
- 8 ounces small waxy potatoes
- 6 small-to-medium radishes
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
- 3 tablespoons Pesto
- Olive oil, as needed and for drizzling
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish
- Flaky salt, for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
- Place the farro in a medium or large saucepan and cover with at least 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, add the sea salt, then reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook for 16 to 20 minutes, until the farro is tender but retains a pleasant chew. Drain, then return to the pot and toss with the vinegar and red pepper flakes. Let stand, covered, until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Peel the carrots and slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Trim the stem ends off the green beans. Slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds or quarter them if they’re small. Cut the radishes into paper-thin rounds.
- Fill a saucepan or pot with about 1/2 inch water, then fit with a steamer unit. Bring the water to a simmer. Steam carrots, green beans, and potatoes in separate batches, or in separate layers of a stacking steamer unit, until tender and easily pierced with a paring knife. The carrots will take 4 to 6 minutes, the string beans 1 to 3 minutes, and the potatoes 4 to 7 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and cover loosely with a piece of foil to keep them warm.
- Stir together the ricotta and pesto until smooth. Add olive oil, about a teaspoon at a time as needed to thin it out; the mixture should be light and fluffy. Taste and add pinches of salt as needed.
- To serve, divide the cooked farro among four bowls. Top the farro in each bowl with the steamed vegetables, radishes, and walnuts. Top with about 2 tablespoons of the pesto ricotta per bowl, then garnish each serving with the basil or parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of flaky salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a lemon wedge.
- After the grains and the vegetables have cooled completely, this bowl can be assembled in airtight containers and stored in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. It’s great for packed lunches and picnics.