Farro, the chewy, nutty-flavored grain that dates back to ancient Rome, has been turning up on upscale restaurant menus all over the city. It’s also great to have on hand in your pantry for a switch from pasta or rice. I recently used it as the base of this satisfying main-dish salad of roasted vegetables, herbs, and crumbled feta that’s destined to become a summer staple. I used the semi-pearled variety, which takes considerably less time to cook than whole farro, but is more nutritious than the even quicker-cooking pearled. To round out the meal, I served it with a simple salad of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions tossed in a little red wine vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings.
12 ounces semi-pearled farro
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1 teaspoon salt (plus more as needed)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, finely minced or pressed in a garlic press
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup slivered Kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, combine the farro and the vegetable stock or water (add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt if using water). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a bowl and let cool.
While the farro is cooking, combine the eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 7 or 8 grinds of the pepper mill and toss. Spread vegetables onto a large, rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are very tender, stirring once or twice during the roasting.
Transfer vegetables to the bowl with the farro.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour over the salad mixture and toss. Add the olives, feta, basil, and mint and toss again. Adjust seasoning if desired. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 8 servings