Skye Gyngell: I much prefer using legumes (pulses) and grains to potatoes. They have a warmth and goodness to them and are a rich source of protein.
The grain called farro is rarely seen or used in Britain, but has played a crucial part in the traditional cooking of central and southern Italy since Roman times. It has a delicate, nutty flavour and is both chewy and tender, and is delicious served hot or cold. The great thing about farro is its ability to absorb the flavours with which it is cooked – so don't be too free with salt and vinegar.
I like to use wholegrain farro, usually labelled perlato, semiperlato, or decorticato. It cooks quickly and its flavour is refined. You can also get a type called farro integrale, which has the whole outer, brown hull intact – it needs a few hours of soaking and a longer cooking time and retains a firmness similar to that of wild rice.
Leftover farro keeps well, covered in the fridge, for a couple of days, and makes a lovely addition to risottos, soups, and bean and vegetable dishes.
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
120g/4oz dried porcini, soaked in 250ml/8fl oz warm water
250ml/8fl oz good-quality chicken stock
250ml/8fl oz Barolo or other full-bodied red wine
75g/3oz Parmesan, half grated and half shaved freshly
Ground black pepper
Place the olive oil in a medium-heavy saucepan over gentle heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, sage leaves and also a pinch of salt.
Remove half the porcini from the soaking water and chop roughly. Add to the pan and stir once or twice to combine. When the onion is soft (after five minutes or so), add the farro and mix well with the pan contents.
Add the chicken stock and wine and turn the heat up slightly. Cook for 20-30 minutes until nutty and tender. Stir and taste frequently. Finish with the rest of the porcini and the Parmesan. Adjust the seasoning with a pinch or so of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan.
Serve hot with peasant-style bread. Alternatively, it's delicious with grilled quail or rabbit. 'Reuse content