Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts

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This month’s seasonal recipe for Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts comes from the cookbook Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living by Maria Speck. The book celebrates ancient grains such as black rice, red quinoa and farro, providing easy, approachable recipes. This recipe pairs beautifully with grilled steaks, chicken, or lamb. Vegetarians can top it with crumbled ricotta salata or feta for more substance.

Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts | Serves 4-6

FARRO

2 cups water
1 cup semi-pearled farro, or about 3 cups cooked
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chile pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon minced hot green chile such as serrano (optional)
3⁄4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or more as needed
3⁄4 teaspoon dried mint, preferably spearmint (optional)

SALAD

11⁄2 pounds eggplant, cut into
1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced (less than 1⁄4 inch)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄2 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1⁄4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F .

To prepare the farro, add the water, farro, bay leaf, and dried chile to a 2-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender with a slight chew, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and chile, drain if needed, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the minced chile, Aleppo pepper, and dried mint and toss to combine.

Meanwhile, to make the salad, place the eggplant and the onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and combine well, using your hands. If you don’t mind the extra dish, it’s a bit easier to toss everything in a large bowl.

Roast the mixture until the eggplant pieces have softened and are browned in spots, and the onion slices have caramelized, turning them once with a spatula in between, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately sprinkle the vegetables with 1⁄4 cup of the fresh mint and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Toss well with a spatula—this will soften the mint leaves and take the sting out of the vinegar.

To finish, add the warm eggplant mixture to the farro. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar and toss to combine. Season with salt and vinegar to taste. Top with the remaining 1⁄4 cup mint and the pine nuts and serve.

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Credit: Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living by Maria Speck, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.