The art of developing recipes — the imagining, testing, tasting, retesting and writing — is kind of like meditation for me. It’s soothing and familiar. And in developing recipes, I can focus singularly on the dish I am working on. That’s why I love it so. So when I woke up the other day feeling a little disconnected from my work, I headed straight for the kitchen. Immediately, I felt better.
You may remember farro from the Lemony Farro Salad I shared a few weeks ago. That cold salad introduced my family to this grain — creating several new fans. So when I felt drawn to getting back into the kitchen this weekend, I immediately turned to farro again. Farro, sometimes called ‘emmer,’ is a form of wheat that’s delicious served hot or cold (once it’s cooked). Cooking it takes about an hour (hands off), so it’s not a last minute side dish option. Also, make sure you season it well because farro doesn’t have much flavor on its own.
Warm Farro with Roasted Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Leeks is great for a hearty lunch on a cool day (and let’s face it, we are heading toward the land of cool days right now). The leeks take on a gentle sweetness when roasted, combining with the slightly acidic roasted plum tomatoes and meaty artichoke hearts. Fresh parsley brings a hint of pepperiness to the dish. And the farro? It takes it all in stride, lending a very, very subtle nuttiness. All together, seasoned with salt and pepper, this dish fills your belly.
Relying largely on the natural flavors of the dish, this farro recipe has no added fat and is dairy free and vegan/vegetarian. Even if you aren’t dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian, you will appreciate the simple richness of this dish. When I was creating this, I expected to need more ingredients to develop a rich and complex flavor. But then I tasted it after mixing the roasted vegetables into the farro, and realized I was already there. This is why you should always taste as you go when cooking. It’s so important to slow down and pay attention — otherwise you could totally miss a dish that brings its own complexity without added fuss or complication.
But this isn’t something that can be made when you are short on time. You need a good hour to hour and a half to make this one. But trust me, the end result is worth every second of effort.
Warm Farro with Roasted Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Leeks
- 3/4 cup farro raw
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 plum tomatoes cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 3 leeks sliced into 1/4-inch rings and rinsed well
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the farro, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Drain any remaining water.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large, round casserole, stir together the tomatoes, leeks and artichoke hearts. Season with salt and pepper. Then bake for 20 minutes. Stir well, then back for 15-20 minutes until the leeks are translucent and dish is lightly browned.
- Stir together the farro and the vegetable mixture. Stir in the parsley and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.