Farro is Italian spelt and has a fabulous nutty texture, not dissimilar to pearl barley when it hasn’t been stewed to death. Farro is available at both Tesco and Waitrose and Merchant Gourmet sell bags of spelt if Sainsbury’s is your local supermarket.
- Reserving the red onions, cube the vegetables and roast them in the oven until golden, giving the aubergine a 20 minute head start. It will take about 40-50 minutes while the peppers and courgettes will take around 20-30 minutes. Salting the vegetables after cooking helps to keep them plump and juicy.
- Rinse the farro in a sieve under the tap and then tip into a large saucepan. Turn the heat on and gently ‘dry fry’ the grains for a couple of minutes, stirring to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pan. The idea here is to give the farro more of a nutty intensity and also to kick start the cooking process.
- Add 500 ml of water and bring the farro to the boil and pop the saucepan lid on. Farro normally takes 10-15 minutes to cook (check the packet for a recommended time though), depending on how al-dente you like your grains to be.
- Pop the sundried tomatoes in a few minutes before the farro is cooked.
- Once the farro and vegetables are cooked to your liking, mix together and add the lemon juice and zest, olives, shredded basil and seasoning. An extra drizzle of oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes never goes amiss either.