One of my favorite things to have my grandma cook is arroz cubano. When she and my grandpa come to visit from Brazil the menu usually looks something like this:
Tortilla de Patata
Pollo Tia Ely
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
One of these things does not fit. But that’s a long story.
Arroz cubano is pretty fancy. It’s white rice shaped into a mound using a mug, then topped with tomato sauce and a perfectly fried egg. Definitely a classic stretching-the-grocery-budget meal, and definitely a kid-pleaser. Anything is immediately more exciting when it looks like a volcano and can be smashed. That’s a fact of life.
Luckily, these days I’m about 1% more sophisticated than my rice-volcano-smashing 8-year-old self, and so I came up with this warm farro bowl that has all the nostalgic goodness of arroz cubano. This is the perfect starter meal if you’ve never cooked farro before—it’s quick cooking, simple, and pretty darn foolproof. The key is to keep tasting your farro and adding more liquid if it needs it—it’ll be done when it’s firm but not crunchy.
Once you’re totally down with cooking farro like it’s no big deal, add whatever your little heart desires to this basic recipe. And if you want to shape it into a volcano and add a fried egg on top, I certainly won’t stop you.
Wintertime Farro Bowl
This warm, toasty farro dish is perfect for a snow day spent at home, but you could easily make it summertime-ready by using fresh tomatoes instead of canned, adding thinly sliced zucchini, and sprinkling on more lemon. If you’re never tried farro, this is the perfect starter dish! It’s easy, quick, and has an almost meaty heartiness that will get you hooked. Great on it’s own as a big hearty helping, or with a side of grilled chicken breast, sausage, or steak.
1 cup farro (pearled)*
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves
½ yellow onion
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 15-oz can diced, unsalted tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice from ½ lemon)
1 teaspoon salt
Few grinds of pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
A handful (5-8) of kalamata olives
Few leaves of basil
Soak the farro in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a medium pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. As that heats, thinly slice the garlic then add to the pot. Let the garlic cook 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned, then drain and add the farro. Allow to toast for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and chicken broth then turn the heat to high.
Slice the onion then chop all the slices in half—or just cut your onion to whatever size you enjoy eating.
Drain the tomatoes and lightly rinse away some of the sauce. Add the tomatoes and onion to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and olives (if using). Allow to boil for 20-30 minutes or until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the farro is firm but not crunchy.
Completely optional tip: While it’s cooking, clean up the kitchen so you don’t have to deal with that nonsense once you’re fed and happy and ready for a nap.
Spoon yourself a big hearty bowl, drizzle with more olive oil, and top with basil and parm. Best eaten on the couch with a blanket!