I first discovered farro on a past trip to Umbria many years ago and it was truly love at first bite. If you are unfamiliar with farro, it is an ancient grain that has made a comeback in recent years and is a typical ingredient used in Umbrian kitchens. Farro looks somewhat like fat brown rice but it has a chewy, slightly nutty flavor that is delicious. In Umbria farro is typically used in soups, salads, or as a side dish. Farro can be used in place of Arborio rice to create risotto, and it is ground into flour and used in everything from desserts to artisan bread.
As well as being very tasty, farro is very healthy for you too. A cup of faro has about 8 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber, or four times as much as white rice. It is a good source of B vitamins and minerals, magnesium in particular, and its complex carbs break down slowly which helps to keep your energy level regulated. You can buy farro in a few different forms including pearled, semi-pearled, or natural. Since the pearled varieties include removing the tough outer husk, the pearled varieties do cook quicker but are not as nutrient rich.
I made this dish for a “meatless Monday” meal as I am working hard to add more plant based meals into our weekly menus. This recipe includes such winter vegetables as butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and fennel which are roasted together until they are golden brown. Once these veggies are added to the farro, I add chopped green onions and orange segments. This is a great vegetarian entree that could be served to guests for either lunch or dinner.
- 1 1/2 Cups Semi-pearled Farro, Rinsed
- 1 Pound Brussels Sprouts, Trimmed & Quartered
- 1 Medium Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeds Removed And Cut Into 1-inch Dice
- 1 Large Fennel Bulb, Cored, Cut Into 1-inch Pieces, Reserving Fennel Fronds
- 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
- 1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
- 4 Green Onions, Chopped
- 1/3 Cup Parsley Leaves
- Juice of 1 Large Lemon
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Medium Navel Oranges, Peeled, Pith Removed & Cut Into Segments
- 1/3 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
- Put 4 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add a pinch of salt along with the farro, then reduce heat to medium low and cook until the farro is “al dente”, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Drain the farro and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil, then add the Brussels sprouts, squash cubes, and fennel along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Toss the vegetables to coat with the oil and season them with salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables until lightly browned and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Toss the vegetables with the farro in a large bowl along with the rosemary, green onions, parsley, lemon juice, and remaining olive oil.
- Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Arrange the farro and vegetables on a large platter then sprinkle with the pine nuts and chopped fennel fronds.
- Arrange the orange segments on the platter and serve immediately.