Monday, November 14, 2016

Fusilli di Farro with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Florence Fennel and Porcini








     Healthy Ancient Grain Pasta!
     Farro has been popular since the days of ancient Rome.  Historically, the word "farro" refers to grain flour made from spelt, durham or emmer.  All three of these wheat grains are currently grown in Italy.  In modern times, farro usually refers to flour made with emmer, spelt or a combination of both.  Durham wheat flour is now used to make most pasta, while farro is usually reserved for specialty pasta.  
     Fire roasted tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that are roasted over an open flame.  Canned fire roasted tomatoes are usually passed under the flames in a hot broiler flame.  Either way, the tomatoes are roasted till the skin turns dark brown or black.  The black skin is removed before the fire roasted tomatoes are canned or used to make a recipe.
     The rich flavor of Italian Porcini Mushrooms combines with the light aromatic flavor of fennel bulb to create a broad flavor range in today's pasta entrée.  Fennel Bulb is also called Anise Bulb or Florence Fennel.

     Dried Porcini Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 small portion.
     Fresh Porcini are rarely available outside of Italy.  Dried Porcini are available nearly everywhere.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushroom slices in 1 1/2 cups of water in a container.
     Soak the porcini in a refrigerator overnight, so the mushrooms fully reconstitute.
     Step 2:  Place the porcini and the soaking liquid into a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the porcini are tender and 1 cup of porcini broth remains.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Set the porcini and broth aside.
 
     Fusilli di Farro Preparation: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Since the modern health cuisine began, interest in ancient grains has increased, so dried pasta made with farro is widely available.   
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Fusilli di Farro in a pot of boiling water over high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     Step 2:  Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Set the pasta aside.
 
     Fusilli di Farro with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Florence Fennel and Porcini:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.  
     This is not really a sauce recipe.  It is more like a vegetable ragout with a quickly reduced broth.  The olive oil helps to coat the pasta with flavor.
     Canned fire roasted tomatoes are a nice convenience.  Imported Italian or Spanish brands are the best choice.      
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 thin sliced small shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot turns clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of florence fennel that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Briefly sauté till the fennel starts to turn translucent around the edges.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/4 cups of coarsely chopped canned fire roasted tomatoes and a proportion of their own juices.
     Add 1 small pinch of crushed red pepper.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.  
     Step 4:  Add the reserved porcini and the reduced porcini broth.
     Add 1/3 cup of chicken broth (or rich vegetable broth for a vegetarian version).
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till about 1/2 cup of liquid remains.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese.
     Stir the cheese into the sauce.
     Step 7:  Add the reserved portion of prepared Fusilli di Farro Pasta.
     Toss the ingredients together, till the pasta becomes hot.
     Simmer and reduce till most of the excess liquid evaporates and a thin olive oil broth sauce forms.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the pasta on the center of a plate.  Try to expose pieces of the fennel, tomato and porcini on the surface.
     Pour any remaining broth sauce over the pasta.
     Step 9:  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of finely chopped Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     Garnish the pasta with a sprig of Italian Parsley.
 
     The fire roasted tomatoes give this ancient grain pasta a nice rustic flavor!

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