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Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad 

click to enlarge Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad

Farro is nothing new. In fact, it's one of the so-called "ancient grains" and has been around for about 10,000 years. Some other grains that fit into this category are amaranth, millet and sorghum. All are full of fiber, protein and minerals. According to an NPR article I found, farro originated in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent and has been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. It is similar in size to barley but is a bit nuttier and chewier. It is great in soups, as a breakfast grain or — as in this recipe — as the backbone of a hearty salad. Typically, farro you find in the grocery store will take up to 45 minutes to cook, though you can get quicker-cooking varieties that take as little as 10 minutes.

What I like most about this salad is its versatility. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand that your family enjoys. I suggest corn, eggplant, green peas or red peppers.

I roasted my veggies, but when the weather allows, grilled vegetables would be a delight. My sister is not usually a fan of fennel but enjoyed it once it was roasted, as that really tones down the licorice flavor. Want to make it a more substantial meal? Stir in crumbled sweet Italian sausage, capicola ham or salami.

This old-school dish might just make a great new addition to your weekday dinner rotation this spring. So go ahead, give it a try!

Ingredients:

click to enlarge ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 package (8.8 oz.) quick-cooking farro (or regular farro, cooked according to package directions)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (more to taste)
  • 1 tub marinated mozzarella balls (I used ciliegine, but if you can find the mini pearls, they would also work well.)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Mixed salad greens for plating

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) into bite-size pieces.
  3. In a small roasting pan, coat the fennel with olive oil, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and a little salt and pepper. (Fennel roasts more quickly than the other vegetables, which is why it is roasted separately).
  4. Combine the other chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a larger roasting pan. Coat with remaining olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast the fennel for about 30 minutes, and the other vegetables for about 40 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to burst open and the other vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, cook the farro by boiling it in vegetable broth according to package directions. It should be slightly al dente.
  6. Once it is cooked, drain remaining liquid and set the farro aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Once the vegetables and the farro have cooled, toss with Parmesan cheese, drained marinated mozzarella, fresh basil and lemon juice. Finish with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
  8. Serve either chilled or at room temperature on a bed of greens, as a side dish or a main course. Leftovers will keep in the fridge, without the greens, for about three days.

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