Sometimes we all need something light and healthy to eat. Farro is one of my go-to healthy, whole grains. I love it’s chewy texture and nutty flavor.
I actually came up with this dish for a healthy cooking demonstration at work. I was immediately inspired by all of the fresh summer vegetables and herbs available in the markets, and decided to go for something vegetarian, yet full of flavor.
Pesto is one of those amazing sauces that can add character to so many different dishes. I decided stray from the traditional basil pesto a bit by using a combination of mint and basil, and almonds rather than pine nuts.
Grilling the vegetables adds an amazing charred flavor; you won’t even miss the meat here. I like to finish this off with basil and mint leaves, and serve it up with extra cheese. For some reason, I thought I could skip the extra cheese when I was taking these photos, but trust me, I piled it on my plate afterwards. It’s still healthy though, right?
Chewy, hearty farro is a great match for grilled zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant. The basil-mint pesto makes this farro salad something special.
- 1 small zucchini, stems removed, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 small Japanese eggplant, stems removed, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 medium red bell pepper (keep whole)
- Olive oil
- 1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed (plus small leaves for garnish)
- ½ cup mint leaves, loosely packed (plus small leaves for garnish)
- 1 ½ cups semi-pearled farro*
- 2 tbsp toasted almonds or walnuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper
- Boil farro: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add farro and boil for about 15 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Grill vegetables: While water comes to a boil, preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high. Toss the vegetables in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add them to the grill, turning every 3-4 minutes. Cook the eggplant for a total of about 10-12 minutes, the zucchini for 12-15 minutes and the pepper for 14-16 minutes, or until charred and softened. Seal the grilled pepper in a paper bag for 10-12 minutes to allow it to steam and cook all the way through. Remove and discard the stem and seeds. Chop all the vegetables into ¾ inch pieces, and set aside.
- Make pesto: While the farro and vegetables cook, combine the almonds and garlic in a food processor or good-quality blender. Pulse until finely ground. Add herbs and process until finely chopped, being careful not to over-process. Slowly stream in olive oil while blending, until emulsified. Stir in cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss & serve: Toss the farro in the pesto. Stir in the grilled vegetables. Check and adjust seasoning, if needed. Garnish with small basil and mint leaves, and serve with grated cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy.
- Cooking times vary depending on the type of farro used. Pearled farro is more processed than semi-pearled farro and thus, has a shorter cooking time. Semi-pearled varieties may also differ in cooking time. Hulled farro, which still contains the entire bran, requires the longest cooking time and should be soaked prior to cooking. Precooked versions also are available and may cook in 10 minutes.
- Serves 4 for a main course or 6 for a side dish.
- Category: Main
- Method: Grill, boil
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/4 of farro
- Calories: 451
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 82mg
- Fat: 18g
- Saturated Fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 67g
- Protein: 17g
Keywords: farro, zucchini, red pepper, bell pepper, eggplant, pesto, basil, mint