WHITE-BEAN STEW AND FARRO
1 pound dried cannellini beans
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 celery stalk, cut in half lengthwise, leaves reserved
1 large onion, halved from root to stem
1 whole clove (stick it in an onion half)
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 piece Parmesan rind, optional
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup farro
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
Chopped celery or parsley leaves for garnish, optional
Lemon juice and/or grated Parmesan cheese for serving, optional
When ready to cook, drain the beans (if soaking) and place in a large pot over medium-high heat, along with oil, 3 of the garlic cloves, celery and onion. Bundle together the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf, tie securely with kitchen twine, and throw it into the pot. Add Parmesan rind, if using. Cover everything with water and stir in the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, partly covered, until beans are soft. This will take 1-3 hours, depending on how long you soaked the beans (if you did) and how old the dried beans were when you bought them.
If the pot starts to look dry before cooking is complete, add more water; at the end of cooking, the water should not quite cover the beans. If there is too much liquid, ladle out the excess.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the farro. Rinse thoroughly, then add to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook, according to directions on package, until softened. Drain well.
Mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves.
When the beans are cooked, remove and discard the onion, celery, herbs and optional Parmesan rind (you can leave the garlic in the pot). Ladle half the beans into a food processor or blender, add the minced raw garlic, and puree. Return the bean puree to the pot.
Serve the beans in bowls over the farro, drizzle each portion with plenty of olive oil, then sprinkle with flaky salt, red pepper and celery leaves or parsley. If the stew tastes flat, swirl in some lemon juice; grated Parmesan cheese on top is also nice. Yield: 6 servings
Distributed By Scripps Howard News Service