To make a grain bowl great, start by seasoning farro
The promise of a grain bowl — with vegetables arranged atop it as artfully as a wedding bouquet — is one of a bright, beautiful future. But carelessly made, it can end up a slog of chewy, underseasoned filler. Better than tossing cooked and chilled plain grains with a dressing is to simmer the grains with enough seasoning to flavor them all the way through.
I sizzle farro with onion, garlic and pepper and then simmer it in tomato juice to soak it through with a savory tang. Fresh and hot out of the pot, the farro could serve as a stunning side dish. Even when cold, the grain packs loads of flavor that works with almost anything you’ve got to throw in with it. I like the richness of good tuna, the brine of olives, the bitter edge of radicchio and the freshness of cucumber and parsley. It’s as good straight away as it is hours later, a not-sad desk lunch to get you through the day.
Smoky Tomato Farro Grain Bowls With Tuna and Olives
1 hour. Serves 6.
You can top the farro with anything you’d like. Try other proteins such as beans or meat, leafy vegetables such as arugula, crunchy vegetables like fennel or carrots, herbs such as cilantro and a fatty element like nuts. If you can’t find hot smoked paprika, you can substitute a combination of ¾ teaspoon smoked or regular paprika and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
- Kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon hot pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 2 cups farro (14 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more
- 1 can (11.5 ounces) tomato juice concentrate (1 ½ cups)
- 2 tins (4 ounces each) high-quality tuna packed in olive oil
- ½ cup good olives
- 1 small radicchio, cored and chopped
- 1 Persian or other mini cucumber, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until a little tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, paprika and a pinch of salt and stir well for 1 minute. Raise the heat to high and stir in the farro. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until the acidic smell burns off. Add the tomato juice and 1 ¼ cups cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally, until the farro is tender and the water is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Gently fold the farro to evenly mix all the ingredients, then let cool to room temperature.
- Divide the farro among bowls and top with the tuna, olives, radicchio, cucumber and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil, then splash with a little vinegar and sprinkle lightly with salt before serving.
The farro alone can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The assembled grain bowl can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 8 hours.
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