First Runner Up - 2017 Recipe Contest

Belli amici! Cooks and chefs! Foodistas! HEY…ohhh…how ya DOIN’?! 

Now that the cat’s out of the bag with the announcement of the big three winning recipes in the Bella Sun Luci recipe contest, I’m gonna talk about dishes that didn’t finish on the podium, one per month. Please feel free to talk back at me….ask any questions…I’m here for ya.

These dishes are getting honorably mentioned because they too had flashes of brilliance and they might be something you’ll want to cook at home. You’ll also get an idea…or two…about how the winners get chosen so that you can win next year’s contest. To give each honoree a head start on making that happen, a Bella Sun Luci gift box full of our sun dried tomato products, our epic arbequina olive oil and our risotto mix is gonna arrive in the mail. 

And this month’s gift box goes to…drrrummmrrroolllll…chef Lee Ann Rattoballi for her Farro with Sausage and Sun Dried Tomatoes. Deeelicious! Congratulations Lee Ann! WOOHOO!

Farro with Sausage and Sun Dried Tomatoes

1 jar 8.5oz  Bella Sun Luci Julienne Cut Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil and Italian Herbs
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage 
1 cup Farro
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
10 oz. baby spinach
Splash of balsamic vinegar
4 oz. goat cheese
Parmesan cheese to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Drain the sun dried tomatoes, reserving the oil. Brush the sausages with the oil and place on a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping them over halfway until cooked through.
Prepare the farro according to package directions.
Coat a skillet with the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the mixture. Mix in the sun dried tomatoes. Slice the sausage and add along with the farro and goat cheese and mix until combined. Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

We LOVED this dish! It was the first runner up…almost a finalist. It’s really well balanced…a ‘whole greater than the sum of its parts’ I like to say, which is the key to a dish becoming a classic. Flavors and textures taking the senses on a journey. Healthy components, as they fit into the Mediterranean Diet, are key. Spinach for example, and farro is healthier (easier to digest, the gluten is water soluble) than other kinds of wheat. Why it didn’t finish in the money, you ask? I think that sausage had a tough time going up against prawns (if you don’t already know, we say ‘prawns’ on the west coast…east coasters say ‘shrimp’…I’ve always thought that saying “jumbo shrimp” is funny), steak and chicken. 

And farro, which I like a lot, actually, is “interesting”…not the best word for a food item. Who keeps coming up with these foods we’ve never heard of? Why? Chef Richie Says: JUST KIDDING!…we all know that variety…biodiversity…is the spice of life. Here’s what I know about farro: It’s an heirloom grain. There are three primary varieties: farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer wheat) and farro grande (spelt). Basically…it’s wheat, fancy wheat. There are lots of ways to cook it including risotto style, which we call ‘farroto’.

Cook this dish at home and serve it to your family. I’m pretty sure they’ll love it as much as the Bella Sun Luci family did when we taste-tested it. It was fun and easy to cook too. Three notes:
Don’t cook the sausages for 30 minutes at 400. Wink-WINK. Cook them (10 or 15 max minutes, depending on type and size) until they’re juicy. You know. Right? The recipe doesn’t call for salt or pepper. I added these ‘to taste’. And any cooking greens will work, not just spinach. Try chard, kale, collards…even cabbage.

Once again, congratulations chef Lee Ann! Thank you for sharing the culinary love with us.

Now get cookin’, buon appetito and tanto tanto amore! And arrivederci...until we meet again…

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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