For this recipe, we set out to create a new kind of casserole, one featuring a whole grain that was both hearty and healthy. We chose Italian flavors, accenting nutty farro with creamy white beans, slightly bitter broccoli rabe, and savory Parmesan. Toasting the farro in the aromatics and oil gave it some extra nuttiness and jump-started the cooking process, making the end result more evenly cooked. We liked small white beans in this dish, as they blended in nicely with the farro while giving it some creaminess and added protein. Blanching the broccoli rabe in salted water tamed its bitterness. We then sautéed it with garlic and pepper flakes for extra flavor. Sun-dried tomatoes gave us the extra pop of flavor we were after. A dusting of Parmesan over the top and a quick stint under the broiler gave this gratin a browned, savory crust. Making this hearty and healthy dinner ahead was simple, as we could assemble the casserole and bake it the next day. We prefer the flavor and texture of whole farro; pearled farro can be used, but the texture may be softer. Do not use quick-cooking or presteamed farro (read the ingredient list on the package to determine this) in this recipe. The cooking time for farro can vary greatly among different brands, so we recommend beginning to check for doneness after 10 minutes.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ cups whole farro, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1½ cups water
- 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (15-ounce) can small white beans, rinsed
- ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in farro and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and water and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring often, until farro is just tender and liquid has thickened into creamy sauce, 20 to 25 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1 cup Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add broccoli rabe and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain broccoli rabe and transfer to bowl.
- Wipe now-empty Dutch oven dry. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook over medium heat until fragrant and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in drained broccoli rabe and cook until hot and well coated, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and farro mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour bean-farro mixture into 3-quart broiler-safe casserole dish.
- Position oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until lightly browned and hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve, passing extra oil separately.