The ingredients for this hearty stew are added in stages so that the ones with shorter cooking times don't become mushy. You can take advantage of this by dicing the beet after the black-eyed peas have begun simmering and chopping the cilantro and chard leaves after adding the farro. Overall cooking time is about an hour and a half.
Farro is the Italian name for the grain of an ancient form of wheat, usually Emmer. It is more easily digested and higher in fiber and protein than modern wheat and rich in magnesium and B vitamins. It should not be eaten by anyone who has celiac disease or has completly eliminated gluten from their diet. Most farro is sold lightly scratched and this form does not need to be soaked before cooking. If you are avoiding wheat, wild rice can be substituted. It usually takes longer to cook than farro and should be added with the beets.
Pomegranate molasses is pomegranate juice reduced to about one quarter its original volume. You can make it yourself by cooking down pomegranate juice over low heat. Towards the end of the cooking process, watch it carefully as it can easily boil over or scorch. Commercially available pomegranate molasses often contains added sugar, so check the label. Savory Spice Shop sells a sugar-free pomegranate molasses and has a location in Princeton, NJ. Its products are also available online.
To thicken yogurt, place it in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let it sit for about 4 hours over a bowl. Its volume will be reduced by about half.
Cut the chard leaves lengthwise into 1½" to 2" wide strips, then cut the strips crosswise into pieces about ¼" wide. Set the shredded leaves aside.
Dice the thick parts of the chard stems into medium pieces.
Coat the bottom of a soup pot with the oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onion and diced chard stems and saute for about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and is starting to brown a little. Add the garlic, turmeric and cumin and continue sauteing for a few minutes, until the garlic and spices are fragrant. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until it is nearly evaporated and the vinegar smell has cooked off.
Add the black-eyed peas and water and bring to a lively simmer. Partially cover with a lid and allow to cook.
After about 15 minutes, add the diced beet.
About 15 minutes after that, add the farro.
Add more water as needed if the mixture gets too thick. After the farro has simmered for about 30 minutes, taste the beans, beets and farro. The beans and beets should be cooked through, soft but not mushy. The farro should be cooked through but still firm to the bite.
Stir in the pomegranate molasses and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chard leaves and the cilantro and cook until they are just wilted, about 10 minutes more.
Serve hot, garnished with the yogurt and pomegranate seeds. (Recipe♦199)