Whilst lurking around in an Italian deli last week in Putney, I stumbled upon the whole selection of the Bartolini Range. Up until that moment I had only known of their Farro Perlato, but it appears that they have a brilliant selection of lovely pulses, pastas and cereals all from Umbria. I bought some lovely looking Borlotti Beans, Cannellini Beans and Chickpeas as well as Orecchiette and Trofie Pasta.
Farro is the Italian word for Emmer wheat. It is a wheat grain, actually a kernel, that resembles barley and is specifically grown in Italy but grows wild in the Middle East. It is hulled but not “polished” and therefore retains a rustic character both in taste and consistency. Like the other grains in the wheat family, Spelt and Kamut, Farro is botanically closer to ancient varieties of grains and has a high vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
Anyway, I love the stuff and often put it into all sorts of soups. But it works equally well in salads too.
Asparagus, Broad Bean and Pea Salad with Farro, Feta and Baby Spinach, Crisp Prosciutto
1 Bunch of Asparagus, snap off ends and cut the rest into 1 inch pieces
200g podded Broad Beans, (or frozen)
200g shelled peas, (or frozen)
Large handful of Baby Spinach
4 slices of Prosciutto or Parma Ham
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
First cook your Farro in plenty of salted boiling water until cooked and nice and chewy. Drain and allow to cool. Whilst still warm dress with a dressing make of some freshly squeezed lemon juice, some extra virgin olive oil and lots of salt and pepper. Allow to cool completely.
Cook the asparagus in lots of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, until tender. Remove and refresh in lots of cold water. Next put the peas in the water. Bring it back to the boil and cook until tender. Refresh. Finally cook the Broad Beans in the water and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Refresh and shell when cool. Place your slices of Ham on some tin foil and bake for about 10 minutes in a medium hot oven until crisp. Remove and allow to cool.
Finally mix the Farro with the asparagus, broad beans, peas and freshly chopped mint. Check for seasoning. Just before serving toss through some baby spinach leaves. Pile onto a large plate. Crumble the feta on top and finally crumble the crisp ham over.