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.
- 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
- 1C basil leaves, loosely packed (plus small leaves for garnish)
- ½ C mint leaves, loosely packed (plus small leaves for garnish)
- 1 ½ C semi-pearled farro
- 2T toasted almonds or walnuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1T lemon juice
- ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
- 2T freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper
- 1Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. 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.
- 2While the grill preheats, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium sized bowl with ice and cold water. Place herbs in a sieve and dunk in the boiling water for about 5 seconds, holding down herbs with a rubber spatula. Shock in the ice water bath. You may skip this step; however, blanching and shocking the herbs prevents the pesto from browning as quickly, which is especially important if you’re planning to have leftovers. Using the same pot, season the water generously with salt, add farro and boil for about 15 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- 3While the farro and vegetables cook, prepare the pesto. Remove herbs from the ice water bath and pat dry. In a food processor or blender, combine the almonds and garlic, and pulse until finely ground. Add herbs and process until finely chopped. Stir in lemon juice. Slowly stream in olive oil while blending, until emulsified. Add cheese and pulse to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may also use and mortar and pestle to prepare the pesto.
- 4Toss 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.