19 July 2011

Minestrone with Chickpeas & Farro

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Ancient grains and seeds like farro and quinoa have had a renaissance in the last few years. Farro in particular is an Italian grain that was in danger of vanishing from production due to its strong husk that needed complex dehulling and milling machinery. Thankfully, the boom in organic produce and growing interest in wholefoods means we get better access to less processed, more nutritionally sound foods.  Farro is similar to pearl barley, but with a nuttier bite. It does contain gluten, though it is more easily digestible than most wheat grains. If you're gluten intolerant, you could substitute brown rice.

If you don't soak the farro first (overnight preferably), it will still cook in the recommended cooking time, though it will benefit from resting for a few hours to allow it to swell and absorb more liquid.

couple of tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 cup farro, rinsed (otherwise soaked overnight)
6 cups of veg/chicken stock or plain water

Fry onion, garlic, celery and carrots over medium heat until soft and browned slightly, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, bay, stock/water and bring to boil, then add chickpeas and farro, stirring well. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until farro is tender. 

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