I’m not a huge fan of the detox-and-diet trope that sweeps the food world in January, but I’m definitely feeling the need to normalize my eating after a month of travel and overindulgence. Luckily, it’s not much of a chore, since I love vegetables and am feeling pretty burned out on sweets anyway. Coming home from my Christmas vacation in Minnesota, I was craving greens and wanted a supply of light but satisfying fare to get me through the short work week, but with simple ingredients I could obtain on a lunch-break one-stop-shop at Trader Joe’s and not spend too much time cooking. I remembered a recipe from Fine Cooking via Use Real Butter I’d tried months ago that would meet all my criteria.
When I made it last summer, this farro dish seemed solid but not super—very similar to a broccoli quinoa salad I’d taken a passing fancy to a few years before (and, I’m now realizing, wrote a very similar healthy-eating intro about in January 2012). But this time, everything clicked. I especially loved the mix of browned, crisped broccoli florets with the more tender and juicy stem pieces. (And if you’re lucky enough to get any leaves on your stalks, they’re the best part! Throw them in the oven for five minutes and they take on a delightful roasted-kale quality.) For a bit more flavor and moisture, I upped the olive oil and added some lemon juice and zest, but if you don’t have citrus on hand, a extra sprinkle of vinegar would do the trick. The recipe is not only flexible but versatile: I ate it as a cold salad this summer, but we’re having what passes for a cold snap in SoCal, so I enjoyed it slightly warm this time around. It just goes to show that sometimes, in food as in love, finding a keeper is all in the timing.
1 cup farro (pearled or whole-grain)
1 to ½ pounds broccoli
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup crumbled feta
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of ½ lemon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add farro and cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes for pearled and 45-60 minutes for whole-grain. Drain and let cool.
- While the farro boils, break down the broccoli into bite-size florets. Don’t throw the stalks and leaves away—peel the thick outer skin away from the stalks and slice them lengthwise, then into ¼-inch pieces, and reserve any leaves for later.
- Toss the broccoli florets and stalks with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring periodically, until the pieces are tender and browned at the edges. About five minutes before the end of the cooking time, toss in the leaves and roast until crisp.
- Add the broccoli, feta, green onions, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the farro in a large bowl. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon zest and/or juice if desired. Toss everything together and serve warm or at room temperature.
Time: 1 to 1½ hours
Leftover potential: Great!