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Farro with Sweet Peas and Ricotta


Farro with Sweet Peas and Ricotta

It’s not easy to make whole grains taste light, or look sophisticated. Yet, they’re so satisfying — not to mention, good for us — that it’s certainly worth giving it a try.

As far as whole grains go, farro has been stealing the spotlight lately. Mostly grown in Italy, farro actually refers to several kinds of wheat — including emmer, einkorn, and spelt — which have been cultivated in Europe since ancient times.

The most commonly grown wheat in Italy, and the one you’ll most likely end up buying, is emmer. It’s a fairly large grain, with a lovely nutty flavor and a pleasing, chewy texture. Emmer is best cooked in plenty of water until fluffed up but still al dente.

In this recipe, this fashionable grain is served with crunchy sweet peas and creamy ricotta (ideally, homemade!). The fresh herbs and lemony vinaigrette further brighten the flavors, making this dish as light and yummy as any whole grain could possibly taste.

Serve this quintessential spring dish as a salad, or as a main course, with these Carrots and Fennel Braised with Orange Zest and Honey. Either way, dig into this wholesome-yet-delicious bowl of farro. You’ll be glad you did!


*Note: If using frozen peas, do not defrost.


For the farro

  • 6 Cups water
  • 1 Cup farro or semi-pearled or pearled barley
  • 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf

For the peas

  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 6 Ounces sugar snap peas, stemmed and cut on a bias into ¼-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 1/2 Cup shelled fresh or frozen peas*
  • 1/4 Cup thinly sliced chives
  • 6 large mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad

  • 1 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 Cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 Cup ricotta
  • 2 Ounces pea shoots or other sprouts, stems trimmed to first leaf, for garnish
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the farro

In a medium-sized pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the farro, salt, garlic, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered until tender but still al dente, about 30-35 minutes. Drain well, remove the garlic and bay leaf, and let cool for at least 15 minutes before assembling the dish.

For the peas

Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and blanch the sugar snap peas and shelled peas until tender but still a bit crunchy, 3 minutes.

Drain and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on paper towels. Once all of the excess water is removed, transfer to a large bowl and add the chives, mint, salt, and olive oil. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

For the salad

Place the lemon zest, shallot, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Add the warm grains to the peas. Combine with the vinaigrette and mix well. Spoon into bowls and top with the fresh ricotta. Garnish with additional olive oil and the pea shoots, and season with fleur de sel and black pepper, to taste.