Like a lot of people, I’ve been experimenting lately with various different grains. I’ve been doing so for a bunch of reasons: to attempt to wean myself away from my shameful reliance on pasta, to get more of those whole grains that all the health nuts are talking about, and to have the sheer fun of the experiment. I was never one for science class, but apparently I can’t get enough of kitchen experiments.
I’ve been playing mostly with quinoa and bulgur for cooking, as well as buckwheat and rye flours for baking. I haven’t yet gotten around to millet or amaranth or wheatberries, but I’ll get to those at some point. For now, the clear winner: farro. Oh, farro. It tastes and looks similar to brown rice, but it’s nuttier and chewier and more complex. I heartily recommend it.
Of the various farro concoctions I’ve tried so far, this Jamie Oliver recipe is my favorite. It’s really more of a starting point than an actual recipe: cook the farro, roast some vegetables, toss with herbs, olive oil, and vinegar or lemon juice. Some good feta made a spectacular addition. All told, this recipe made for some of the best lunch leftovers I’ve ever had.
For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that one of farro’s only downsides is that it’s not always widely available or terribly affordable. I’ve seen it at Whole Foods for an arm and a leg, and I’ve been getting mine at the Italian Store (bonus: you might run into Justice Scalia! If you see him, buy that man a nice sausage).
Farro salad with roasted vegetables and feta
Inspired by Jamie Oliver
1 cup farro
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red onion, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
lemon juice or white wine vinegar
handful chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and rosemary, but you could also use basil, mint, or oregano)
Preheat the oven to 400º. Toss vegetables and garlic cloves with olive oil, salt, and pepper on large baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are browning and tender, about 30 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, cook farro according to package directions. If your farro doesn’t have directions, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add farro. Cook until tender, checking often and adding more water as needed. When farro is finished, drain, toss with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
When vegetables and farro are done, toss with herbs, additional olive oil, and lemon juice or vinegar to taste. Mix in feta.