6 servings as a first course, 4 as a main course
Here’s another of my delicious discoveries at Le Lampare, a restaurant in Trani on the Adriatic coast. Farro is again paired with seafood, the simply cooked grain tossed and dressed, like pasta, with a lively sauce of cured tuna, tomatoes and capers.
We can’t match the tuna used at Le Lampare—theirs was expertly house-cured from the flavorful and expensive ventresca (belly flap) of the fish—but with this recipe you can make a version that is truly delicious in its own right, using good quality canned tuna (packed in olive oil, of course). It is a great summer dish, as a main course or appetizer.
- 1 pound farro (or 500 grams, 17.6 ounces, as packaged in Italy)
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- About 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more
- 6 plump cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (crushed red pepper flakes)
- 3 cups (or a 28-ounce can) canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- Two 6-ounce cans tuna in olive oil (preferably imported from Italy)
- 4 tablespoons small capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Rinse the farro well and drain in a sieve. Put it in the pot with 6 cups of water, the bay leaves, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, set the cover slightly ajar, and adjust the heat to maintain a steady bubbling simmer. Cook about half an hour, stirring from time to time, until the farro grains are cooked through but still al dente, then turn off the heat. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed; if there’s water still visible, pour it off. Discard the bay leaves. Keep the farro in the covered pot to stay warm while you make the sauce.
Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil into the big skillet and set over medium-high heat. Scatter in the sliced garlic and peperoncino in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes to caramelize. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and the capers and heat to a moderate boil and let the tomatoes bubble away, uncovered.
Meanwhile, drain the canned tuna and break it up into thick flakes, ½-inch or a bit larger. After the tomatoes have cooked about 5 minutes, drop the tuna in the skillet and stir it into the tomatoes slowly, so the flakes of fish stay together. Cook at the same bubbling boil for another 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked and slightly reduced.
Lower the heat a bit and stir in the remaining olive oil (about 3 tablespoons). Now spill the cooked farro on top of the sauce and toss and stir, still over moderate heat, until the grains are very hot and thoroughly mixed with the tomatoes and tuna. Turn off the heat, toss in the chopped parsley and serve.