I tasted a version of this dish at a neighborhood restaurant in Milan, Italy, and thought about it for weeks afterward. It was a warming, cozy bowl of goodness with a rustic-chic elegance that made it feel totally fresh and modern, an appeal I attributed to the pairing of chickpeas with farro, an ancient variety of wheat. I began to experiment with my own take on it when I got home. I soon realized it involved the same basic cooking technique as a familiar favorite, pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans). Here, though, the farro lends a delightful chew and subtly nutty flavor to the stew.
This dish is designed for the pearled or quick-cooking variety of farro, which cooks in 15 to 20 minutes. But you can use the unpearled kind instead, if you soak or parcook it beforehand. I have to warn you though, once you try this dish, you might catch yourself daydreaming about it after.
Makes 4 servings.
- 2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium chickpeas (3 cups), drained and rinsed, divided
- 3 1/2 cups low-sodium canned or chicken or vegetable broth, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-size onion, diced
- 1 medium-size carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pearled farro
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (or ½ cup frozen)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Place 1 cup of the chickpeas and ½ cup of the broth in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of chickpeas, remaining 3 cups of broth, and the tomatoes with their juices, rosemary, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Add the farro, return to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig.
- Add the chickpea purée, then stir in the spinach and cook until it is just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Serve garnished with the cheese.
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Per serving: Calories 380; total fat 12g (saturated fat 2.5g, monounsaturated fat 6g, polyunsaturated fat 2g); protein 17g; carbohydrate 51g; fiber 12g; cholesterol 5mg; sodium 770mg; total sugar 10g (0g added sugar)
Excellent source of: fiber, iron, manganese, phosphorous, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K
Good source of: calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc