Many a moon ago I checked out of the library this lovely Roasting cookbook by Barbara Kafka and learned the secret of ‘high roasting’ and apply it often. There is a time and a place for slow-low-roasting (any big pork roast prefers it, our Roast Chicken recipe starts on high but then goes pretty low, and Summer Tomatoes to freeze ‘instant sauce’ – slice thickly and lay onto parchment papered tray/toss whole garlic cloves/S&P/whole herbs like savory-sage-rosemary and roast 275 degrees for 4 or so hours, until they carmelize – let cool, then scrape all the goodies into a freezer container and use for a rainy day on fat pasta like tagliatelle or even ravioli, or even the secret to Kale Chips: remove ribs and rip into big but bite-size pieces, toss with enough olive oil to coat lightly, and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt, roast 350 degrees for 25 min, stirring once or twice until crisp) – I like recipes within recipes within recipes…
But today high heat reigns with veg that are just coming into season here – peppers, maybe some small eggplants, zucchini/summer squash/pattypan, fresh herbs – as with many of our recipes here at Rock Bottom, we like ingredients that are easily substitutable – makes for your own signature and seasonal eating. You can use farro, barley, bulghur wheat or wheatberry, or even jump off the map and go to orzo or Sardinian (Israeli/Fagioli) couscous but I love the squeaky satisfaction of farro or wheatberry. This is family adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe and works great as a light meal (top buttercrunch or butterhead lettuce with this salad in a deep bowl, top with kalamata and feta) or as a Summer side to something grilled – nice piece of fish/chicken/lamb chops – something not as meaty as beef or pork as the farro is pretty ‘meaty’ in itself, or take to a Summer Party (with a small gathering, a little distance and eco-friendly disposable plates/utensils, outsideness can still happen together!).
Roasted Veg Farro Salad
14oz Farro, Wheatberry, etc (see above for other ideas)
3-5 small Summer Squash (Zucchini/Yellow/Pattypan – a mix is great), or Cucumber (early Americans only ever cooked their cukes – really!, they are a cucurbit, after all)
2 fresh Onions – one red, one yellow, or Scallions, Fennel bulbs (or a mix)
2 Colored Bell Peppers (ripe are sweetest but could mix in a green too!)
2 medium Eggplants (I find Spanish Galina or Italian Rosita or long sweeter and more suitable than the classic Italian purple eggplant, but a variety of white/pink/lavender would be delicious and fun)
4 cloves Garlic or a handful of Garlic Scapes (this is a good recipe for that batch you bought at the Farmer’s Market and didn’t know what you were going to do with them – tip: they freeze great, just toss in freezer container, use for pizza night, chopped into soups/pasta sauce, etc)
“a good bunch of fresh herbs” – flat leaf parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, savory, sage, even fennel tops, dill, mint, lemon balm, or rosemary could work – just use a bit less of ‘stronger herbs’
Olive Oil/ S&P/ squeeze of Lemon Juice/ Herb, Red, or White Wine Vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the Farro/Wheatberry in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain. While roasting veg below, cook Farro/Wheatberry/Pasta, etc per directions (Farro/Wheat: in large saucepan, cover with cool water, bring to a boil/simmer 20 min or until tender, drain well) then toss with a little Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, S&P.
Chop all veg (not herbs yet) into about 1-2″ pieces (you don’t have to be exact, we’re going to chop again after cooking) and drizzle with a light coating of olive oil, S&P, spreading veg out onto oven tray (try and keep to single layer – use 2 pans if you have to).
Roast 30-40 minutes, shaking veg around occasionally, until crisp around the edges and starting to carmelize. Sprinkle a little vinegar (about 2-3 tsp) over top of the veg as they come out of the oven and set aside to cool. When cool, turn out onto a cutting board, add fresh herbs and chop coarsely.
Add to dressed Farro/Wheatberry/Pasta, season with more Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, S&P to taste and serve! Super delicious!