Farro with Braised Fennel & Lemon Vinaigrette

It’s the new year, and everyone automatically tries to eat a little healthier. While it’s easy to assume that healthy food is bland and boring, that’s not the case at all, especially with this farro salad.

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Farro is an ancient grain that’s deliciously nutty. When cooked, it becomes tender with a chewy bite. It’s one of my favorite grains to cook with. I add it to soups, green salads, or toss it with a vinaigrette and add vegetables like I’m doing here. I even sometimes sweeten it and eat it in the morning instead of oatmeal. No matter what you do with it, it’s a versatile grain that should be eaten much more often.

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For this dish, I let the farro cook while I prepare the rest of the components. The fennel bulbs are simply braised in stock until golden and tender. I roast some cherry tomatoes for a bright, sweet touch. A light lemon and oregano vinaigrette dresses the farro. I love eating this for lunch with a poached egg on top. Or I serve it alongside some sort of chicken, fish, or meat, and it becomes a satisfying side dish for a healthy dinner.

Farro with Braised Fennel & Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 6
simply prepared farro topped with braised fennel, roasted cherry tomatoes & tangy lemon vinaigrette
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Farro
  1. 2 cups farro
  2. 8 cups water or low-sodium stock (chicken or vegetable)
Braised Fennel & Roasted Tomatoes
  1. 2 bulbs fennel (save the fronds)
  2. vegetable oil, salt & black pepper
  3. 1-2 cups low-sodium stock (chicken or vegetable), or more if needed
  4. 1 pint cherry tomatoes
Lemon Vinaigrette
  1. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  2. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  4. ¾ cup canola oil
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
  6. ½ tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  7. salt & black pepper
Farro
  1. Combine the farro and liquid in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook the farro until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid and let the farro cool.
Braised Fennel & Roasted Tomatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Trim the ends of the fennel bulbs, but keep the core intact. In a large sauté pan, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Place the flat side of the fennel down in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sear until golden brown on one side. Flip the fennel over, season again, and sear another minute or two. Add enough stock to the pan to come about half way up the fennel. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan. Simmer until the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, coat the tomatoes with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them in the oven until soft and caramelized, about 12-15 minutes. When the fennel is tender, remove the cover and raise the heat. Cook until the stock has reduced and creates a thick glaze.
Lemon Vinaigrette
  1. While the fennel and tomatoes are cooking, combine the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the canola oil while continuously whisking until completely incorporated. Stir in the oregano and fennel fronds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the cooled farro with the vinaigrette. Check the seasoning again and adjust if necessary. Serve the fennel and tomatoes on top of the farro with a few fennel fronds to garnish.
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