Farro with Blistered Tomatoes and Pesto is a hearty vegetarian meal with a burst of vibrant flavors and a delightful chewy texture. Tomatoes, fennel and onions are roasted with garlic, then added to pesto flavored farro and spinach. It’s the perfect side dish or main meal.
Why This Recipe Works:
- Delicious. The nutty and chewy texture of farro, combined with the sweetness of blistered cherry tomatoes and the herbal kick from pesto, makes this a dish that my family goes crazy for.
- Easy. This is a super simple dish to make, as the veggies are simply roasted in the oven and the farro can be made easily on the stovetop or instant pot (my preferred method!). Add some store-bought pesto, spinach and mozzarella and you're done!
- Hearty vegetarian dish. We try to do at least 2-3 dinners per week that are meatless. This dish is hearty enough that we don't even miss the meat! (That said, you could add shrimp, scallops, or even chicken to this dish if you're looking for some extra protein.
- Perfect as a main dish or side. I love a big steaming bowl of this farro on it's own. But it also works really well alongside a steak, roast chicken or fish.
- Healthy. I love that this dish is mostly veggies and whole grains. It's a great comfort meal that won't leave you feeling guilty.
The beauty of this recipe lies in its simple yet flavorful ingredients. Here are the key ingredients you'll need.
- Farro. The star of the show! If you've never had farro before, you're in for a treat. It's easy to cook and is sort of a mix between rice and oatmeal. It's perfect for this dish since it has a slightly nutty flavor, which pairs well with the pesto sauce.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes work great here. You'll roast them with the other veggies until they're crinkly and blistered.
- Red onion, fennel, and garlic. I love these aromatic veggies so much and they give such a deep flavor to the dish when roasted. Reserve the delicate fennel fronds for garnish at the end of the dish.
- Pesto. I LOVE pesto. You can of course make your own, but you can find lots of great pesto sauces in the grocery store. Look in the pasta sauce aisle. Costco also makes a fresh, refrigerated version that's pretty much a staple in my kitchen (and what I used here).
- Red pepper flakes. Optional, but I like these for a tiny bit of spice.
- Lemon. You'll use the juice and zest of a lemon in this dish, which really adds a citrusy zing and brightens the dish.
- Spinach. You'll add this at the end and the spinach will become slightly wilted. It's a nice fresh addition.
- Mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella really amps up the comfort elements of this dish.
- Parsley and fennel fronds. Sprinkle these on the end for some extra flavor and color.
How To Make Farro With Blistered Tomatoes and Pesto
- Prepare the farro. On the stovetop, bring a large covered pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and cook for about 30 minutes over medium-high heat until tender, stirring the farro occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the farro is done cooking, you'll need to drain any excess water before adding in the sauce and veggies (there will be some, which is fine). (Alternatively, you can make farro in the instant pot which is quick and easy and doesn't require you to hover over the stove.)
- Roast the vegetables. While the farro is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the grape tomatoes, onion wedges, fennel bulb, and chopped garlic with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the tray with salt, pepper, and red-pepper flakes and roast for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes blister and become nice and crinkly.
- Combine and toss. Once the farro is cooked, drain the water and transfer it to a serving bowl or a large mixing bowl. Toss the farro with a little olive oil and the pesto. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and spinach, mixing well.
- Top with roasted veggies. Top with roasted onions, fennel, garlic, and tomatoes.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish the dish with the mozzarella chunks, fresh parsley, and reserved fennel fronds.
Variations And Substitutions
- Make it vegan. For a plant-based option, omit the mozzarella or substitute with a plant-based alternative. (Be careful with choosing your pesto sauce too if you're looking for a vegan version. Pesto often has Paremsan as an ingredient.)
- Try different tomato varieties. I love this dish because the ingredients are readily available any time of year. But if you're making it in the summer when delicious fresh tomatoes abound, test them out! Experiment with different varieties of tomatoes for a unique flavor.
- Add some beans. We sometimes add white beans for an extra protein boost to this dish. Still vegetarian but just makes it a little heartier.
- Add some meat or fish. Chicken, steak, or even shrimp or scallops would all be wonderful additions to this dish if you're looking to make this a really hearty meal.
- Try different greens. Swap spinach for broccoli rabe for a bit of spice.
- Try different pesto sauces. Did you know you can make pesto with almost any combo of greens or nuts? While traditional basil pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, oil and parmesan you could use spinach, arugula, walnuts, or other ingredients to make a truly unique pesto. Try making a homemade pesto sauce (like this Lemon And Mint Pesto Recipe) with what you have on hand.
- Add some more herbs. Amp up the flavor even more by adding some fresh basil, thyme, or other herb to the dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! This dish can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. The flavors often meld and intensify, making it even more delicious the next day. If making ahead, you may want to wait to add the mozzarella until you're ready to serve. You could reheat the dish with the mozzarella, but I prefer it to be added right before serving so it doesn't get too melty.
Yep! While farro adds a distinct nutty and chewy texture, you can experiment with other grains like quinoa or barley.
Allow the dish to come to room temperature, then place in an airtight container and store for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
Farro is typically found in the rice and grains section of the grocery store. But occasionally you can find it in the pasta aisle. Trader Joes and Bob's Red Mill are two of my go-to brands.
If you try this Farro With Blistered Tomatoes And Pesto recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments below. And don't forget to tag me @frontrangefed on Instagram - I love to see your creations!
More Easy Vegetarian Dishes
- Pumpkin Mac And Cheese
- Easy Kung Pao Tofu Recipe
- Creamy Pumpkin Gnocchi Sauce With Sage
- Healthy Spinach Feta And Rice Casserole
- The BEST Crispy Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Chickpea Stew With Orzo And Greens
Farro With Blistered Tomatoes And Pesto Recipe
- 1 ½ cups farro rinsed
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 1 red onion peeled, quartered and cut into wedges
- 1 fennel bulb ends trimmed and cut into wedges. (reserve the fennel fronds for garnish)
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup pesto
- zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cups spinach
- 4 oz mozzarella cut into chunks
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare the farro in your instant pot, or on the stovetop. If on the stovetop, fill a large pot with water, salt well, and bring to a boil. Add the farro and reduce heat to medium-high. (You want it to be slightly boiling/simmering). Cook the farro, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring it occasionally to prevent the farro from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The farro should be tender. (Click here to learn how to make farro in the instant pot!)
- While the farro is cooking, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add the tomatoes, chopped garlic, fennel, and onion wedges. Toss everything with 2 tablespoon of olive oil, ensuring the vegetables are well coated. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if using. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes blister and the skins are crinkly.
- Once the farro is done cooking, drain the water then add it to a serving bowl or a large mixing pot. Toss it with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the pesto. Add in the lemon zest and juice, and the spinach and mix to combine. Top the farro with the onions, tomatoes, fennel and garlic.
- Garnish the dish with extra fennel fronds and chopped parsley.