Farro with Toasted Fennel, Lemon, and Basil

Recipe by Alison Roman in Nothing Fancy

I’ll be honest – I didn’t think I’d like this recipe as much as I did. However, the fennel and lemon pairing is so surprisingly tasty! Plus, there’s something magical that happens to these flavors when heat is thrown into the mix. Both the fennel and lemon can sometimes be quite strong, but let them cook on the stovetop together and their flavors settle a bit. Mixed with the farro, then topped with the fresh basil and you’ve created a truly delicious dish! 

Ingredients

  • 2 C pearled or semi-pearled farro, barley, Israeli couscous, freekeh, or wheat berries 
  • ¼ C olive oil 
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds 
  • 1 large fennel bulb, bulb stem thinly sliced, fronds reserved 
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 
  • 1 C fresh basil leaves, torn 

Directions

  1. Cook grains according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.  
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add garlic and fennel seeds, and cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is just starting to brown, 3 – 4 minutes. Add the sliced fennel bulb and half the lemon and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is totally tender and starting to caramelize, 8 – 10 minutes.  
  1. Add the farro to the skillet and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Toss to coat and cook a few minutes, letting the farro absorb some of that garlicky, fennel-y olive oil. Add remaining lemon slices and chopped Fennel stem and remove from heat. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and top with the basil and fennel fronds.  

TIP: Farro can be cooked up to 5 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. The whole dish can be cooked 3 days ahead, but wait to add the fresh herbs and fennel fronds.  


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