You know it and you love it: Veganomicon is one of the classic tomes of vegan cooking. This amazing cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz was recently updated with new pictures, streamlined instructions and organization, and some additional recipes as well. I am delighted to be sharing one with you, this rich, satisfying, holiday-worthy Baked Farro with Tomato and Herbs.
Isa’s cooking style is similar to mine in a lot of ways. She’s willing to take a couple of extra steps to make home cooking taste special. The recipes begin with real ingredients and end with creative presentations of plant-based flavors. Simply put, this is vegan food for people who just like good food.
I love farro, an ancient grain in the wheat family with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. *But*, I usually prepare it in my rice cooker and then season it afterward. The concept of baked farro was totally new to me and I can say definitively that I will be making it again.
To make this baked farro with tomato and herbs, shallots and garlic are sweated in a skillet, and then infused with thyme, bay leaf and oregano. Farro is added to the pan and toasted risotto-style, but then the whole thing is transferred to the oven where it bakes with tomatoes and fresh parsley. In the oven, the farro absorbs the tomato broth and becomes perfectly al dente, brimming with herbacious savory flavor.
The piece de resistance of this casserole, though – the little extra step that made this baked farro sing – is the truly insane walnut “breadcrumbs” that are baked onto the top. Made by grinding up walnuts, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon zest, the crumbs are buttery and homey, and get nice and crisped in the oven as a complement to the tender and chewy farro.
I used crushed instead of diced tomatoes, so mine doesn’t have those tomato pieces and has more of an orange color throughout, but other than that it looks just like the picture from the book.
This baked farro with tomato and herbs proves that cheese and eggs are wholly unnecessary for making a tasty grain bake. I actually was planning to add cooked chickpeas to mine to turn it into more of an entree; they were completely forgotten on the counter. But I still think that would be a great addition. If you’re so inclined, some veggie sausage like Field Roast would probably also pair well with the tangy tomato flavors.
The recipe is illustrative of the type of fare you’ll find in the rest of Veganomicon. The book has appetizers, sides, “proteins”, complete meals, soups, desserts, breakfasts… all creatively made with normal ingredients. If you like to cook and would like some more all-purpose vegan recipes on your cookbook shelf, I can’t recommend it more!
Baked Farro with Tomatoes and Herbs
This hearty vegan casserole is made by baking toasted farro, garlic and shallots in an herb-infused tomato sauce until tender. A crispy walnut breadcrumb topping makes this recipe truly gourmet.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups uncooked farro
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped shallot
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes with juices
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme or basil
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley or fresh basil
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
For the walnut topping:
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Sort through the farro to remove any broken grains and rinse in a colander.
In a large saucepan over medium, sauté the garlic and shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 2 minutes to soften the shallot. Stir in the farro and the bay leaf and sauté for another minute, then pour in the vegetable broth and the tomatoes.
Increase the heat to high and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add oregano, thyme, and salt. Remove bay leaf. Taste and season with a little more salt, if desired (if using water, you may want to), then stir in the parsley and nutritional yeast.
Pour the farro mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the farro has absorbed almost all of the liquid.
Pulse together the topping ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor (or pound with a mortar and pestle) into coarse crumbs.
Take the casserole out of the oven, remove the foil, and cover the top evenly with the walnut topping. Drizzle those 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top and bake for 10 minutes to lightly brown the top of the casserole.
For best results, allow the casserole to sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly and firm up a bit. Serve warm; this casserole tastes even better the next day after the flavors have blended a bit more.
Excerpted from Veganomicon, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Copyright © 2017. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Author's note: Rich and cheesy tasting without a lick of cheese (and with plenty of nutritional yeast), this comforting and easy tomato and herb-drenched baked farro casserole may bump your favorite pasta bake down a notch or two. Farro is a rustic, chewy variety of whole-kernel wheat rich in protein and fiber, and usually stocked in nice groceries with other heirloom grains, such as quinoa, or look wherever Mediterranean pastas and rices are sold.
Shannon's notes: I've reduced the oil for the shallots and garlic by half with no ill effects. Also, I found it easier to pre-mix the olive oil with the walnuts rather than drizzling it on afterward. My only other change was to used crushed rather than diced tomatoes.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Veganomicon: 10th Anniversary Edition. All writing and opinions are my own.