Hooray, it’s October! Work, school, sports and activities are keeping us all busy, and we are ready to welcome in all the fall fun that the month brings: pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin carving, pumpkin seed roasting, costume parties, corn mazes and haunted houses. With more treats than time on our hands, quick and healthy meals are a must, and Harvest Farro Bowls are just the ticket.
Farro is an Italian word that describes 3 species of wheat (known in English as einkorn, emmer and spelt). It adds nutty taste and chewy texture to salads and soups, and makes an ideal base for a one-dish meal in a bowl. (You’ll find gluten-free options for farro in the recipe below.)
I was inspired to make this by the bowl craze that’s swept the nation, and the fantastic book Bowls of Plenty by Carolynn Carreno. There are endless options for bowl meals (even desserts) – their main attraction is the fact that everything is combined in one place to provide your nutrients and food groups in delicious ways.
As always I suggest a visit to your local farmers market if possible so you can choose the freshest seasonal produce. Since it’s fall, I layered the farro with greens and shaved Brussels sprouts, roasted pears and butternut squash, cranberries, walnuts and a delicious apple cider vinaigrette for a flavorful, nutritious dinner. Simmering the cranberries with the farro as it cooks rehydrates them, and stirring the shaved Brussels sprouts into the hot farro mixture softens them just enough.
Chinese Five Spice is a great combination to use on the roasted vegetables – star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seed and black pepper add warm autumn flavors and just a touch of spicy heat that balances well with the vinaigrette.
And of course, use your favorite produce, proteins and nuts to make your ideal meal. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a great seasonal sub for the walnuts; persimmons, pomegranate arils, apples and figs would be delicious additions; have fun and create a Thanksgiving-themed bowl for a change of pace with leftover turkey.
October weather can be warm or cool, and this bowl is delicious either way, making it a wonderful weeknight meal. Enjoy, y’all!
October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins…. Merry October! Rainbow Rowell
- 1 ½ cups regular or quick-cook farro
- 3 cups low salt chicken or vegetable stock
- 9 oz. package cubed butternut squash
- 2 large pears, cored and cut into cubes (about the same size as the squash)
- 9 oz. package shaved Brussels sprouts
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped (or use toasted pepitas)
- 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, shredded
- 1 package baby kale and spinach/salad greens
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Chinese Five-Spice Powder
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ tsp. Five-Spice Powder
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil.
- Add the farro and cranberries. Stir, cover and simmer according to package directions, until the liquid is absorbed.
- While the farro cooks, roast the vegetables: line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Place the squash and pears on the baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and Five-Spice Powder; toss to coat evenly.
- Bake 10 minutes and stir to redistribute; bake 8-10 minutes more, until crisp-tender.
- When the farro is cooked, turn off the heat, stir in the shaved Brussels sprouts and let set.
- Make the vinaigrette by combining first three ingredients and whisking until smooth.
- Slowly add the oil and whisk until emulsified, then add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and ¼ tsp. Five-Spice powder.
- Place a handful of greens at the bottom of the bowl.
- Top with desired amounts of farro mixture, squash, pears and chicken/turkey.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and garnish with chopped walnuts and chives.