Search The South Padre Island Flip Flop Foodie Blog!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roasted Shrimp with Farro Pilaf

I had never heard of the grain "farro" until a year or so ago.  Giada DeLaurentiis made a cold salad with farro and said it was a favorite.  I tucked it into the back of my mind...never seeing it on the shelves here, nor in Austin.  Then, I asked Mr. Flip Flop to stop in at Central Market bulk section and see if they had it there...if so, would he bring me a pound?  He arrived with that, and the rest of my wish list, in hand.  As I unpacked I nearly had a heart attack!  $11.99 per pound...I was guessing in the $4 to $5 per pound I had learned it was an "old grain" and was a type of wheat.  The price on the small ziplock bag was over $13.00 so I turned and said "OMG, I had no idea this cost so me next time if it seems out of line!"  He said he was certainly shocked, but I'd asked and he'd delivered.  (good man that he is!)  I am now pondering how to use this bit of Italian gold.

I searched recipes - found lots of soups, a few cold salads...spaghetti made out of farro...aka spelt.  Ahhh, okay, now that is a more familiar word!  I've seen spelt flour in the specialty flour section at the grocery store and it felt like a more common term...although it really isn't a "common" grain in wide use here in the United least not in my part of the U.S.!  Farro is apparently the Italian word for spelt or emmer.  I decided to investigate a bit further...and found this on the USDA's website.

"Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccon),
also known as farro especially in Italy, is a low yielding,
awned wheat. It was one of the first crops domesticated
in the Near East. It was widely cultivated in the ancient
world, but is now a relict crop in mountainous regions
of Europe and Asia."
Most searches for recipes had a fairly standard method of cooking...somewhere in the 1:3 or 3.5 ratio of farro to liquid...and most suggested 20-30 minutes of cooking time, yielding a firm to the teeth cooked grain.   Some sources recommended soaking it overnight and others recommended toasting it in oil prior to adding the liquid and boiling, much in the manner of rice...bring to boil, reduce heat, put a lid on it and leave it alone.

I decided I wanted to treat it in a pilaf sort of method, hoping the teen might eat it.  He hates rice (do you know how hard it is to cook with no rice products???) but loves I've got my fingers crossed.

I am hoping by serving it with one his favorites, shrimp, he might be inclined to give it a go. 

Here's what I came up with:

by Debbi Hook
(with a nod to Ina Garten 
for showing us how good it is to roast shrimp!)


½ pound Farro (spelt)

1 tablespoon EVOO

Chicken or Vegetable broth sufficient to use a 3:1 ratio for cooking Farro

1 teaspoon salt


1 ½ pound jumbo shrimp (21/25 per pound), peeled and deveined

Two vine ripe tomatoes, cored, halved, de-seeded, and sliced in 8 pieces from each half.

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (I used the Martha Stewart Garlic Press/Slicer)

EVOO for drizzling

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


¼ cup EVOO

¼ cup butter

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely diced (I used a press)

¼ cup basil, chiffonade

Fine zest from ½ lemon (use a microplane)

3 green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced (2 of these will be cooked, 1 will be garnish)

Juice of 1/2 lemon


In the bottom of a 3 quart or larger sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat and add ½ pound of dried Farro, stirring to coat with oil.  Continue toasting the Farro for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, then add chicken or vegetable broth with 1 teaspoon of salt, using 3 parts liquid to 1 part Farro.  (my 1/2 pound was slightly above 1 cup…but not quite 1 ¼ cups.  I used 3 ½ cups of low sodium chicken broth for the liquid.

Bring to boil while stirring, lower heat to medium low, cover and and cook for about 30 minutes – try a grain and see how it feels to your tooth.  (I actually cooked mine another 5 minutes because the teen taste-tester said it was still too hard.)  Drain and set aside, keeping warm with a lid on the pan – doesn’t have to stay hot, just warm as it won’t be heated again before service.

While Farro is cooking, prepare your shrimp and tomatoes and garlic. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Peel and devein shrimp, including removal of tails. 

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. 

Lay cleaned shrimp (I ended up with 30 shrimp) and tomato portions in single layer on the cookie sheet, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle the salt and pepper and garlic slices over everything.  Toss to coat everything with oil. 

Place in oven for 9-10 minutes.  Shrimp will be pink and curled in on itself.  If using smaller shrimp, cook less time.  Don’t over-cook shrimp, it gets rubbery.


While the shrimp are roasting, work on the rest of the flavors for the Farro.  In a small frying pan, heat butter and olive oil, add chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add  diced garlic clove, salt, lemon pepper, basil, lemon zest, and about 2/3 of the sliced green onions (reserve last third  in its raw condition to the side).  Sauté for just one or 2 minutes more – then pour contents of the pan over the warm, drained Farro and mix well. 

Remove the shrimp from the roasting pan onto a plate. Add everything  else from the roasting pan, including any juices or oil, to the Farro and onion mixture.  Toss well to combine.  Place Farro mixture into a serving vessel, add the shrimp on top, and garnish with last bit of green onion, and a little more fresh basil if desired. Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over the shrimp or serve lemon wedges on the side if preferred. Serve immediately.

IT WAS DELICIOUS!  The teen ate THREE servings. (Mr. Flip Flop is convinced if we tell him it's from Italy, and supply a history lesson, he'll eat anything!) There were enough leftovers for maybe one person the next day.  Dad and the boy gave it a thumbs up!  I ate one helping.  It was very filling.  I'm happy with my first utilization of will definitely be used again - I'm thinking soup next time.

Bon Appetit, Y'all!




  1. Come to think of it - I've never roasted shrimp before. Looks delicious, and what an interesting use of farro!

  2. This method of roasting shrimp looks like a great idea! Much easier than the skewer way of grilling. Also, I have never cooked with farro and for some reason I thought it was animal feed. Obviously not if it is that expensive! It does look delicious. Adding a new grain to the diet is a good idea, so I may try some farro-thanks for posting this.


Comments are moderated - you should see it within a few hours if approved! Spam or marketing comments are immediately deleted. Thank you!!!