Dinner

By Tara O'Keeffe | February 3, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

Reading the new US Department of Health dietary guidelines has made me reconsider refined starches and flours.  The guidelines recommend nutritious and delicious whole grains, which retain more nutrients than refined grains.

The Department of Health recommends composing your meal of half fruits and vegetables alongside whole grains and low fat proteins and dairy.  This recipe for Farro-stuffed Peppers fits the bill exactly.

I’d heard of farro before, but in my mind had put it into the “health food bucket” along with things like wheat berries and never gave it much thought.  Ever since my first bite I have been kicking myself for never giving this wonder grain a chance.

Farro cooks in under twenty minutes and can be enjoyed hot or cold.  It is perfect for soups, salads, and main courses, and doesn’t get gummy or starchy when cooked like rice can.  I have started my farro exploration with an easy vegetarian dish that uses only a few ingredients but is packed with flavor-bell peppers stuffed with a lemon and herb farro salad.

The sweetness of the bell peppers paired with the citrusy flavor of the farro salad and some salty Pecorino-Romano cheese makes for a knockout combination. I used cilantro and mint to brighten up my herb dressing, but use whatever combination you enjoy. Serve this alongside a roasted chicken for dinner, or enjoy solo for a healthy lunch.

If you’ve never tried farro, give this recipe a go, then come up with your own tasty ways to incorporate it into your cooking repertoire.

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and founder of FunFearlessFoodie.com

Read more on Eating Well for the 2010 US Department of Health Dietary Guidelines:

Shockingly Simple Advice

How To Eat Vegetarian

Lemon and Herb Farro-Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers(whatever colors you like)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
  • 2 cups farro
  • 1 cup lemon and herb dressing(see recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon and Herb Dressing
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

To Make Stuffed Peppers:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice the tops off the peppers and discard. Using a pairing knife, carefully remove the ribs and seeds from inside the peppers by running the knife around the inside in a circular motion, making sure not cut through the pepper. Cut a thin layer off the bottom of the pepper to help it stand flat. Drizzle the inside with oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Place the peppers inside a baking dish and fill the bottom of the dish with a shallow layer of water. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender but not falling apart.

4. While the peppers cook, add the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Salt the water amply and add the farro. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15-18 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the farro is tender but still has a bite to it.

5. Toss the cooked farro with the dressing, cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Fill each pepper with enough farro to come up to the top and place back in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and garnish with chopped herbs.

To Make Lemon and Herb Dressing:

Place the herbs, garlic, and lemon juice inside a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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