Monday, March 10, 2014

Farro with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Tahini Dressing

So I've stopped hurling desserts at you. You miss them don't you. I know; I know. Everyone's just like, "That woman has a problem" and then when the Nutella-filled dessert items stop coming...

But don't miss them too much. Because some healthy foods are just so good and so deeply satisfying that they practically make you swoon in just the same way. There are many many great meals out there, but some of them just stumble into the realm of perfection--where the flavors balance perfectly and the textures balance perfectly and the flavors and textures meet and then balance perfectly again. This is one such meal. When I read about the tahini dressing, I thought, "Umm, I don't know; tahini is just so bitter." But seriously--it is the perfect balance to the sweet roasted potatoes and the chewy farro. I thought the pine nuts sounded amazing, but then I forgot them and it was still amazing. I'm sure it'd be doubly amazing with them. I mean, it's a perfect meal.

And if perfection isn't good enough for you, it's also vegan. And easy.

Farro is part of the wheat family. Per the bag my farro came in it comes from older varieties of wheat and is therefore something that even people with gluten intolerances can eat because it has not been modified (GMO-ed) over the generations. I hope that's true and it makes sense to me, but I can't promise anything. In a nutshell, farro comes from certain types of wheat (the whole portion of the wheat--it's a whole grain), but not just any wheat could be considered farro. When cooked it should be chewy and pleasantly toothsome. I got mine from my sister in D.C. You can order it online, but then it's a good deal more expensive. Mine was $6 for 3 pounds, which is a good price.

It can be a side or a main dish. It can be left very basic or pumped up with vegetables (I used asparagus in the picture above) or even chunks of chicken.

Farro with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Tahini Dressing
adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
Serves: 8 as side dish portions; 4-6 otherwise
Prep and cook time: 20-25 minutes
Cost: $4.80 (That's just about $1.20/meal, but you can cheapen it further by leaving out the pine nuts as I accidentally did--it was still awesome)
sweet potatoes: .75, farro: 2.00, stock: .40, pine nuts: 1.50, other stuff: .15

Note: Okay, I get that farro is weird. It's actually wheat. And it's amazing. If you don't have it you could use barley, which will take longer to cook (or even brown rice in a pinch). But truly the farro is something special. Try it if you can.

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 4 C total--I probably had a little less than this)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 C farro (I don't know if you can even buy this locally, but you can order it online)
4 C vegetable stock (or chicken broth)
1/2 C toasted pine nuts
sliced green onion for garnish


1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Tahini
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
1/4 C olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the diced sweet potatoes in olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing/mixing them every 10 minutes or so. You want them to have some good color on the sides by which I mean at least one or two sides should be more brown than orange, even though that can be scary, but it creates a caramelized-type flavor that is unbeatable.

While they're roasting, cook your farro. To do this, put the broth into a pot and heat it. Add the farro. Stir and let it simmer, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the type of farro you have, this could take longer--it comes in different sizes). You can stir it occasionally. When done, it should be chewy, but not crunchy. If there's any broth left, pour it out.

When the sweet potatoes are ready, add them to the farro.

Then make your dressing. To do that, just mix all those dressing ingredients.

If you happen to remember, toast your pine nuts. You can do this by tossing them in a hot skillet and stirring them around for a minute or two. Or (if you don't want to dirty another pan) you can put them on the cookie sheet and back in the oven, stirring them every minute or two until they're lightly browned and aromatic.

Add the pine nuts to your farro/sweet potatoes. Then pour the dressing on, mix it up, and garnish with green onions.

You can add other vegetables if you wish. I've made it with and without the asparagus and loved both.

I also think that if you'd like to un-vegan it, chunks of chicken would be delicious with it.

We served it as a side for burgers and I found it so good I could have skipped the burger.



  1. Mmmmm sounds really good... thanks forthis :) Never tried faro, but looks great. I make this kind of thing with barley though.

    1. If you can get it you should totally try farro--it's my favorite grain ever.



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