I am a big fan of farro, especially when it is a star ingredient of a whole grain dish that can serve multiple purposes, transitioning from last night’s dinner to today’s lunch.  So when I was recently feeling in a bit of a lunch rut, I took an inventory of available ingredients in my kitchen, one of which was farro, and went to work!  Farro, ricotta salata. and red walnuts (yes, red!), these were the basis of the dish I would soon enjoy for multiple meals. After digging around a bit and mixing and matching ingredients I came up with this delicious grain dish that can be served as a satisfying side or star as the main meal over leafy greens. 

This recipe takes a bit of time, since you need to allow time for the onions to caramelize, but is worth the wait even on a weeknight.  It is delicious served both warm and at room temperature.  Depending on whether you serve as a side or main meal this will make 6-8 servings.

12 ounces farro
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 ½ cups walnut halves
1 pound ricotta salata, crumbled
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, rinsed well and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Cook the farro according to package instructions, drain  and set aside. 

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onions, salt, and sugar and cook on medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce the heat, add the Aleppo  pepper, and cook for 30-40 minutes until the onions begin to turn a caramel color; if they begin to stick reduce heat.

As the onions cook, place the walnuts in a small frying pan on medium-low heat and toast, stirring frequently.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Cool the walnuts and then chop them into small pieces.

Toss the caramelized onions with the farro, walnuts, ricotta salata, parsley, lemon zest and juice, black pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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