There was a recipe that went viral on Pinterest a few years back which involved putting dry pasta and a few ingredients like onions, garlic and tomatoes, in a pot and cooking everything together without draining, sautéing, etc. I thought it was going to be life-changing, but instead this “one pot pasta” dish turned out to be a huge disappointment. The sauce was thick and starchy and the whole dish was an overall mess.
Then Smitten Kitchen applied the same technique and ingredients to farro and it was a delicious, easy, one-pot meal. I decided to adapt that recipe to fall/winter ingredients and a voila! It turned out to be the best farro dish I have ever made. Flavorful, nutty, hearty and super simple. Plus my whole family went crazy for it. Farro is a delicious, chewy grain which I often add to soups or turn into a salad. But instead this side dish can be a meal unto itself or a great accompaniment to almost anything.
Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that can be overcooked and still taste and look good. In fact, cauliflower just gets milder and sweeter the longer it is cooked. I love pairing cauliflower with golden raisins, garlic and crushed red pepper for a contrast in flavors. I think you could also sub a lot of riced cauliflower for some of the farro for an even lighter dish. The end result is a total winner, although not as dramatic and pin-worthy as the original pasta recipe. But as I always tell my teenage daughters, what is put forth on social media is sometimes too good to be true. I’m usually not referring to pasta of course, but the lesson is a good one!
I didn’t originally intend to post this as a possible Thanksgiving recipe, but I think it could be a good alternative to stuffing. Thanksgiving recipes are coming starting Tuesday. Get ready!
- 1 cup farro
- ½ large onion, cut in half again and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup unsulphured golden raisins, or chopped dried apricots
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets, about 4 cups
- 2 cups water or chicken stock, or a combination
- accompaniments, if desired: grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (recommended), toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds
- Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan or stockpot in the order listed, with farro first, then onion, etc. Bring uncovered pan to a boil over high heat, lower heat to a simmer and stir occasionally. After 30 minutes, farro should be tender. If it's not, cover and continue to simmer a few more minutes. There should be a little liquid at the bottom of the pot, but it should not look like soup. Turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve. The longer it sits, the more liquid will be absorbed.
- Serve warm with parmesan or pecorino cheese and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds, if desired.
You can stir the cheese into the farro before serving or grate it on top of each person’s portion. Sometimes I like to add capers with the rest of the ingredients and you can finish it all off with some fresh, chopped parsley.
Semi-pearled barley can be substituted for the barley.
I did mine farro primavera yesterday and it was amazing
Thanks, Vane. Glad you enjoyed it!
Any thoughts on doing this in an instant pot? Thanks!
Here are my thoughts/guess as to how I would try in an Instant Pot – for semi-pearled farro, like Bob’s Red Mill, set for 10 minutes on high pressure and do a natural release after 10 minutes. I have not tried this though. Let me know if you do!
I was entertaining, so I chickened out and just followed your instructions (no Instant Pot). It was delicious but still at lot of liquid left – is that how yours is? I think I’ll try it again in the IP with only 1 1/2 cup of liquid. Thanks!
I don’t know what “a lot” of liquid means, but yes, there is some liquid left. Did you cook it uncovered?
Next time, you can cover it after the farro is tender and allow and residual liquid to get soaked up by the farro.
I made this recipe in the Instant Pot tonight! A great one-pot meal! I added a can of white beans and 2 tsp of capers, and I served it with spinach on the side. Next time, I think I’ll add the spinach (and parmesean) into the Instant Pot at the end, close it up and let it steam together. BTW – I started with the onion and garlic in the Instant Pot (on saute setting, with a little water). I sauteed the onion/garlic for a few minutes, then added chicken broth, farro, salt, raisins capers, beans and cooked it for 10 minutes. THANKS for this recipe, but my poor husband will probably get sick of this as I intend to make it frequently! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your IP instructions. So many people are using the machine and it’s great to know what will work!
In your photos it looks like you added butter, did you find you liked the olive oil or butter during recipe testing?
I like it both ways, but I probably like it a little better with butter.
Loved this dish- I used olive oil, but subbed barley and added capers as well as white beans to make it even heartier. Can’t wait to make it again and continue to experiment! Thank you!
Capers and golden raisins are one of my favorite combinations ever! Plus barley and white beans? Homerun!
This tastes great and super easy to make.Thanks again!
Glad you thought so. What’s better than easy and delish?? 🙂
Hi! Do you think Millet would work instead of Farro as a gluten free option? Thanks! Happy Holidays!
Yes. Follow the package directions for the water to millet ratio. 🙂
I made this tonight with a salad. Everyone loved it! So delicious and easy. With the next few days of most likely not eating the best, this was a perfect dish to lead up to that. 🙂 Thank you for something so good.
You are so welcome! Thank you for the feedback!
Made this last night as a side dish with pork tenderloin for our wine club to pair with our favorite Pinot Noir. Needless to say it was a HUGE hit! Cannot wait to make it again. Definitely will become a comfort food family favorite. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Mary. I feel like this is one of those recipes that people might overlook because it looks boring, but it’s surprisingly satisfying and delicious. Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Pamela! Can you add beans to this? How would you do it? Thanks!
Sure! I would stir cooked beans in towards the end or even at the end. What kind of beans were you thinking? Cannellini or Great Northern?
Can i substitute chicken stock with vegetable broth?
I love the farro/cauliflower combination, but I always oven-roasted the cauliflower and added it to cooked farro with onions, garlic, chili powder, capers, sliced pimento-stuffed olives and olive oil. Now I can’t wait to try your one-pot version. Thank you for always providing innovative, time saving ideas!
You can add olives or capers to this, as well. It’s the easiest recipe!
I love this idea of a one pot wonder. Is there another gluten-free grain that I could substitute? Looks delicious!
Try brown rice, but cover the pot the whole time!