Mussels with Farro, Cannellini Bean, and Chickpeas
What is light, yet satisfying and quintessentially Italian in its use of ingredients? This is – a meal in a bowl, healthy yet bursting with flavor.You might recall my little run in with the customs folks on a return from one of my trips to Italy where I had my farro confiscated. Well, the good news is that farro is widely available these days so you don’t need to sneak it back from Italy. You also don’t need to cook all of your beans from scratch (as in the original recipe I came across from Lydia) in order to develop great flavors in this recipe.And although you might not think it’s possible, you can actually make this recipe the day before you are going to serve it and it will come out perfectly. Simply prepare the farro and beans and refrigerate them in the pot you cook them in. Cook the mussels and shuck them, reserving all of the great liquor they release and refrigerate them in those juices in a covered container. When you are ready to serve, heat the farro and rice to simmer, stir in the mussels and reserved juices and just heat through. Serve this dish like my friends in Italy would – drizzle (pour) plenty of high quality extra virgin olive oil over the top and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. And you know what? This is actually a very heart healthy dish that will fit into your plans if you happen to be trying to eat healthier this month like I am. Buon Appetito!
- 3 cups water
- 1½ cups farro (or pearled barley)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cans chickpeas
- 2 cans cannellini beans
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Bring the 3 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan over high heat; add the farro, cover, and return to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until the farro is just barely tender, about 45 minutes.
- While the farro is cooking, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add carrot, celery, and onion, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, and chickpeas, and just enough water to barely cover the mixture. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- When the farro is cooked, add it to the stockpot along with the cannellini beans, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir together, cover, and set aside (or refrigerate if serving the next day).
- Pour the remaining ¼ cup olive oil into a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add all the mussels at once. Stir the mussels a bit, then cover and cook over medium high heat until the mussels open fully, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to uncover the pan every minute or so to stir the mussels to ensure they all open.
- Shuck the mussels right over the pan, letting the juices and meat drop in. Discard the shells (and any mussels that did not open). If serving immediately, stir the cooked mussels and their juices into the farro and beans. The consistency should be very broth. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
- If serving the next day, place the mussels and their juices into a covered container in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, heat the farro and beans to a simmer, stir in the mussels and their juices, and continue cooking until heated through. Stir in fresh parsley before serving.
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