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LifestyleRestaurantsFood and Drink

Who's Cooking: Erik Longabardi, Roslyn

Erik Longabardi, organizer of the Roslyn Village farmers

Erik Longabardi, organizer of the Roslyn Village farmers market on Saturdays, with his roasted tomatoes, grilled zucchini and farro. Credit: Steve Pfost

ERIK LONGABARDI

Erik Longabardi, a public schoolteacher in Queens, lives with his wife in Roslyn, where he also runs the Roslyn Village farmers market on Saturdays.

How did you get interested in food?

I always played around in the kitchen, but I was really motivated to learn to cook after college because I had no money. I was living in New York City, going to all these great markets, not able to afford to eat much. I just started figuring out how to do it at home.

What restaurants inspired you?

They ranged from high to low. La Grenouille set the standard for great service. Angelica Kitchen got me excited about having a beautiful salad with vegetables from the green market.

Where do you eat on Long Island?

For special events we'll go to Trattoria Diane, but mostly I cook at home. I love shopping at Razzano's in Glen Cove -- great mozzarella -- and at Rottkamp's farm in Old Brookville.

What do you like to cook?

My wife, Julie, is vegetarian, so most of what I do at home is based on seasonal vegetables -- though I do like to cook with organ meats and game, too.

How do you make a filling meal from vegetables?

We rely a lot on grains, interesting ones like buckwheat, millet, freekah and farro . I love the nuttiness, the texture of farro. I've learned that grains are easier to digest if you soak them overnight in whey or lemon water.

What do you serve farro with?

It pairs well with anything. Mix it with roasted beets, arugula, red onion, blue cheese, throw some pumpkin seeds on top. Or, it's great topped with braised meat. This time of year I serve it with late-summer vegetables -- zucchini and tomatoes.

FARRO WITH LATE-SUMMER VEGETABLES

Farro is the Italian name for emmer wheat. Most of it is sold "pearled" or "semi-pearled," which means that some of the bran has been removed. If farro is not pearled, soak it for one day in a mixture of water and lemon juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice for every cup of water. To turn this into a hearty main dish, top each serving with a poached egg.

1 cup farro

Salt

1½ pounds zucchini, cut diagonally into ½-inch slices

Extra-virgin olive oil

Pepper

8 plum tomatoes (about 1½ pounds), halved lengthwise

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried

1. Bring about a quart of well-salted water to boil. Add farro and simmer until tender, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on brand of farro. Set aside.

2. Brush zucchini slices lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill on a grill pan over medium-high heat until zucchini is tender and nicely marked. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and thyme (if using fresh, just toss in sprigs). Place on a rimmed baking sheet and cook until tomatoes begin to shrivel and brown, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

4. Combine farro, grilled zucchini, roasted tomatoes in a large bowl. If mixture is dry, add some more olive oil, adjust salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.