Enter farro, a hearty grain that stands in well to dishes that call for rice or couscous. It's got a great al dente texture and it's unique enough that paired with some expertly roasted vegetables (hello, cauliflower) and salty olives. If you can handle that, dinner is served in about 35 minutes (give or take).
For this recipe, you will need:
1 1/2 cups farro, dry (Trader Joe's makes a good fast-cooking option, though for regular-cooking farro, try Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 head of a large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 teaspoon dried turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup olives (any color), sliced
Heaping 1/2 cup of pesto
1/4 cup cherry (or other small variety) tomatoes, sliced (optional)
For the pesto, I went with my vegan standby: about 4 cups kale, 1/2 cup toasted almonds, 3 cloves garlic, a pinch of salt and a generous glug of olive oil. How official, right? But it pays to make pesto by the batch because it freezes up great (save it as meal-sized portions for easy defrosting) and makes the next busy weeknight dinner a breeze with a little extra zip.
Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss together your cauliflower with your turmeric, paprika, cumin, fennel, lemon juice, olive oil and pinches of both salt and pepper. Get your hands in there to make sure everything is well coated. And then rinse your hands right away, because turmeric tends to stain.
Roast the cauliflower for 30-35 minutes, or until tender, rotating the pan halfway through cook time.
When you're about 15 minutes away from the cauliflower being ready, bring about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil. (Note: if you're not using the fast-cook farro, start this process right after the cauliflower goes in the oven.) Cook your farro according to the instructions, which will be to keep at a boil for about ten minutes or until tender. Drain and then return to the same pot. Stir in your pesto immediately.
Serve in bowls with cauliflower on top, a scoop of salty olives (YES) and tomato halves, if using. It's simple, sure, but it hit the spot like a weekday dinner should: easy and yet still completely satisfying.
What's for dinner tonight?
- So you're a fan of farro? Try these spinach farro fritters.
- Another play on pesto? Try spaghetti with white-bean quinoa balls and arugula pesto.
- But what about raw pesto made from cauliflower? It can be done.