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Earthy, nutty-tasting farro gives substance to this hearty dish—brilliant as a side, but able to easily stand on its own as a main course too (consider adding cooked beans like cannellini or chickpeas for even more heft). The sweet potatoes, onions and nuts are roasted to add deep flavor, and the pomegranate seeds offer a gorgeous pop of color and a sweet-tart surprise in each bite.
Farro is an ancient strain of wheat from Italy that’s becoming more and more popular in the States. You’ll find it in many high-end markets, such as Whole Foods (look in the bulk food section). I prefer semi-pearled grains—they cook more quickly then the whole-grain product, while retaining much of the bran and fiber content. Substitute spelt, wheat berries or brown rice if you like.
You can use ordinary lemon juice if you’re unable to find Meyer lemon in the market. Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and orange, and its juice is sweeter, less tart, than lemon.
Serves 6 as a side dish, 3 to 4 as a main course
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 10 or 12 wedge-shaped pieces
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/3 cup raw walnuts
- 3 packed cups roughly chopped kale (stems removed before chopping)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- Fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- Combine farro with 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until grains are nearly tender (about 20 minutes). Add one teaspoon salt, stir and simmer until grains are tender (another 10 minutes or so). Drain excess water, then place grains into a large bowl to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss onion with enough oil to lightly coat, but not soak. Spread across a baking sheet and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Toss sweet potato with oil in a similar fashion and spread on a second sheet. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander and a pinch of salt. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast until tender and onions begin to brown. The onions will be done before the sweet potatoes. Stir and turn vegetables at least once during cooking.
- When vegetables are nearly done roasting spread walnuts on a third sheet (or in an oven-safe dish, if you’ve run out of baking sheets) and toast until they have darkened in color and are fragrant (about 5 to 8 minutes). Keep a close eye on the nuts as they will easily burn in a hot oven. If you prefer, wait until the vegetables have finished and been removed from the oven, then turn the temperature down and toast the nuts. When nuts are done, cool completely, then roughly chop in small pieces.
- While vegetables and nuts cook heat one to two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add kale and garlic and cook lightly until kale has wilted but is still bright green in color. Stir to cook evenly. Scrape cooked greens mixture into the bowl with farro. Add sweet potatoes and onion. Stir the ingredients together, then drizzle with a bit of your best extra-virgin olive oil to moisten (a tablespoon or so) plus lemon juice to taste (about one tablespoon, or less, if you are using ordinary lemon juice which is more tart than Meyer lemon). Taste and add salt as needed. Gently stir in walnuts and pomegranate seeds.