Toasted Grain Pilaf


Toasted Grain Pilaf.jpg

I celebrated my birthday almost two weeks ago and one of my wishes was to have a ‘staycation’ – lay poolside, read a book, and relax.  Once my children are in a body of water and swimming, I don’t hear from them unless they are hungry and when they have a room number to charge to I am out of the equation.  There are only a few hotels in town that provide these options so as I was looking at hotels and their menus (always important for me to make sure they have good vegetarian options or adaptable dishes) I came across a dish named Toasted Grain and Endive Sauté.  The ingredients listed seemed to be quite tasty combined – black rice, farro, cauliflower, baby  bok choy, endive, capers, golden raisins, smoked almonds, sesame oil, lime.  I immediately jotted the ingredients down and was glad that I did since we didn’t eat at this restaurant.

When I returned home I made what I thought would be done with these ingredients as described.  I stuck closely to the ingredients listed except for the black rice which may have been a nice contrast in color for the dish.  I loved the idea of combining cauliflower, endive and bok choy.  Toasted Grain Pilaf Veggies.jpg

Because of the use of grains and the crunch of the almonds it seemed like an interesting spin on rice pilaf to me and not a sauté as the name originally implied, therefore I named my dish aptly, Toasted Grain Pilaf.

I enjoyed what I did with it and it turned out to be a hearty dish that I felt could be eaten alone or as a side dish.  I loved the use of lime and I thought of adding some cilantro and a touch of heat which gave it great flavoring.  Enjoy!

Feed the wellness in you!


Toasted Grain Pilaf

Yield: 3-4 servings


  • Vegetable Stock
  • 3/4 cup Farro
  • 2 cups roasted cauliflower
  • 2 baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 endive, chopped
  • 2 tbl capers
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup red onions
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup smoked almonds chopped
  • Sesame Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • 2 -3 limes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro


  1. Cook the farro according to the directions in 1.5 - 2 c of vegetable stock. Should be 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool
  2. Roast the cauliflower in olive oil, dash of sea salt, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder. Takes approximately 30-35 minutes.
  3. Sautee the red onions and minced garlic in 2 tbl of olive oil for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the roasted cauliflower, bok choy and endive and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Fold in the farro, capers, and 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper; mix well.
  6. Squeeze the juice from the 2 -3 limes into the dish. If they are large limes, use 2.
  7. Mix in the golden raisins and 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Add salt to taste.
  8. Drizzle sesame seed oil on top.
  9. Sprinkle the smoked almonds on top, the remaining cilantro and serve.

Warm Farro and Edamame Salad

warm farro and edamame.jpg

A few weeks ago I went to dinner with a girlfriend to a very popular French restaurant in town.  Needless to say, a French restaurant has very limited vegetarian options but what little this restaurant has, they do it very well.  I had their Warm Farro Salad which in addition to farro it featured butternut squash, a little cauliflower, olives, and a few kale chips all on just a handful of radicchio leaves.  It was very good and left me quite satisfied.

As I often do, I left the restaurant wanting to replicate the dish at home in my own way.  I’ve featured Farro and all of the other ingredients in this dish in various recipes on this blog and knew that the combination of them would work well.  However, my goal is to always do something different, creative, and healthy and not replicate a dish exactly how someone else may prepare it.  What came to mind was adding edamame. I absolutely love edamame (aka soybeans).   It is considered a complete protein because it has all nine essential amino acids, in addition to a host of other vitamins and minerals.   I try to keep them on hand but they spoil fairly quickly, within 2-3 days.  They make a great snack in between meals.

The flavors I derived from the dish at the restaurant were a combination of pesto, a little red wine and/or balsamic vinegar for acidity, and fresh herbs.  There are so many ‘stars’ in this dish in addition to the farro and edamame it seems a little unfair to highlight just those two, but perhaps that’s the element of surprise.  I roasted my cauliflower which adds a certain smoked flavor; then there’s the sweetness of the butternut squash along with all the other ingredients make this a nice warm topping for a bed of greens.  Instead of a few kale chips sprinkled throughout, I used fresh, slightly roasted kale chips as the bed instead of salad greens.  After having it this way, the next night it worked well as just a side dish without the kale chips.  Whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed.

Feed the wellness in you!

Warm Farro and Edamame Salad

Yield: 4-6


  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 cup edamame, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash (1/4 in pieces)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbl pesto
  • 1 cup pitted greek olives (I used a combination), chopped
  • 1.5 cups roasted cauliflower
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Kale Chips - Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, dry and remove stems from kale. Break leaves into bit size pieces. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the kale on the parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes. Put aside
  2. Roasted Cauliflower - Similar to the kale chips, wash, dry and break into bite sized pieces. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. The edges of the cauliflower should be slightly charred. It should not be soft but a fork should easily go thru each piece. Put aside
  3. Cook the Farro according to its directions in the vegetable stock. Do not drain.
  4. Sautee the chopped butternut squash in 1-2 tbl of olive oil for 10-15 minutes. They should be tender but not too soft. Mix in with the cooked farro.
  5. Add your edamame, pesto, butternut squash, cauliflower, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
  6. Place some kale chips on your plate or deep bowl.
  7. Add the warm farro mixture on top and serve.

Farro and Penne Pesto with Asparagus

Farro and Penne

For the second week in a row, I have another idea for adding the lovely asparagus into a dish! It is a delightful and versatile vegetable that at times I can’t get enough of.   They even have it at the resort we are visiting this week for spring break so I continue to get my fill.  However, in this dish I don’t want to minimize the introduction and addition of the great whole grain, Farro.  I prepared this last week before we left town and it was a winner.

Farro is one of the world’s oldest grains, yet not many people outside of Italy know much about farro nutrition. The word farro comes from the old Latin word farrum, which means “a kind of wheat.” This grain originates in the Tuscany region of Italy, where they have been growing it for thousands of years. Hence I thought this would be a great addition to a pasta dish.

Whole farro provides substantial protein and a huge dose of selenium, which some studies indicate is a protection against cancer. Even though it has already been known by some in Western Europe and the US, it is only now becoming popular. It is also sometimes ground into flour for bread . Farro has a nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture.  It can be eaten any time of the day – cooked like oatmeal for breakfast, in salad for lunch and as demonstrated in this recipe for dinner.

It blended well with the penne’s texture.  The farro is cooked slightly longer than the penne but without difficulty.  With some slightly crunchy, sweet asparagus in a lovely pesto along with the capers, this is a fast and healthy dish that I hope you try.

Farro and Penne Pesto

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 4


  • 2 cups of whole grain penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup of farro
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of asparagus spears
  • 4 tsp of capers
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 tbl onion powder
  • 2 tbl of fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbl pesto sauce
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano


  1. Cook the farro in 3.5 cups of vegetable broth for 5 minutes; add your penne for the last 10 minutes.
  2. This amount of cooking time should yield al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.
  3. In another pan, sautee the red onions and garlic for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
  4. Add the asparagus and sautee for 15 minutes.
  5. Fold in your farro and penne. Turn to a low heat.
  6. Add your onion powder, parsley, sea salt, pesto and capers.
  7. Mix well and add the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  8. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.