Have you ever tried farro? If you haven't, then you should. It tastes nutty and chewy, it's a good source for complex carbs, and it's the oldest cultivated grain in the world. Although farro is distantly related to modern-day wheat, it contains twice the fiber and protein of wheat. And, if you overlook the spelling, you can make jokes about Ancient Egypt as you serve it to your four-year-old.
This recipe was one I stumbled on through one of my favorite blogs, The Chic Life, where the blog's author featured a link to this article about seven healthy foods that will be big in 2013. I had to try it - oven-roasted vegetables, chewy farro, melted fontina, how could you go wrong? And it was delicious - I filed it away mentally to make again, then couldn't find the recipe two months later when I was again craving it. Fortunately my friend at The Chic Life helped me locate it.
This makes a vegetarian main course that could serve 2-3 people, or a side dish that would give you leftovers for lunch the next day. I altered the original recipe, leaving out radicchio (because I forgot to buy it) and halving the amount of vinaigrette - it tastes fine without it. You could substitute other roasted vegetables you might like here (zucchini? red peppers?) and not go wrong. But don't skip fontina - it really adds an extra special character to this dish.
Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Fontina
3-4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 cup grape tomatoes, or one big tomato cut into chunks
6-8 cremini mushrooms, cut into small chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup farro
2-3 ounces fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
small handful of chopped parsley
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1/2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and onion in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Meanwhile, rinse and drain the farro. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, season with salt, and add farro. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until soft but still chewy in the center. Drain any excess liquid.
Combine the cooked farro and vegetables, then add the fontina and parsley. Whisk together the vinaigrette, seasoning with salt and pepper, and drizzle over the farro mixture. It's actually delicious without it, too.