It has been an extraordinarily cool and wet May here in Italy, so instead of wanting to make my typical warm weather dishes, I am still in the kitchen making hearty soups, stews, meaty pasta dishes, and even polenta. My kids grew up enjoying a bowl of steaming corn meal polenta topped with tomato sauce and cheese at my Mother-In-Law’s table, so it has always been a family favorite in our house. The past two years however, I have been experimenting with other grains to make my polenta, and farro is one of my favorites.
In this particular polenta dish, I used a combination of half instant cornmeal polenta, and half ground farro. I had to cook the farro a little longer before adding the cornmeal, but it was a winning combination. Since I wanted to make this a meatless dish, I topped my polenta with a combination of some of my favorite vegetables such as my Mushroom Medley, my Roasted Tomatoes using whole cherry tomatoes instead of halved plum tomatoes, and my Spring Peas With Pancetta. You could top your polenta with anything you prefer such as a meaty Bolognese sauce, simple tomato sauce, sautéed greens, etc. The possibilities are endless! To give my dish a little extra flavor, I drizzled the top with a little celery leaf and pistachio pesto which just made this entire dish come to life.
Deborah Mele 2016
Herbed Farro Polenta Topped With Veggies & Celery Leaf Pistachio Pesto
- 1 Cup Farro
- 1 Cup Instant Cornmeal
- 4 – 5 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Mixed Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Mint, Oregano)
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- Topping of Choice (See Notes Above)
Celery Leaf Pistachio Pesto:
- 1 Cup Packed Fresh Celery Leaves
- 1/2 Cup Raw Pistachio Nuts
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Place the farro in a food processor or blender and puree until finely ground (like sand).
- Bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil, then stir in the ground farro, and cook over medium low heat for about 7 to 8 minutes or until the farro tastes cooked and isn’t grainy.
- Add 2 more cups of broth, return to a boil, and slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking it continuously until smooth.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often, and adding additional broth as needed if mixture becomes too thick.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the herbs, cheese, and butter until blended.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the polenta in individual bowls with topping of choice.
To make the celery leaf and pistachio pesto, dump all the pesto ingredients into a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not smooth.
To use the pesto, drizzle a little on top of any dish to bring it to life!