A Southern Grace: two firsts

March 15, 2017

two firsts


Farro with fennel. I got brave and tried two previously untasted ingredients together...and I liked them both!

Yes, I'm in my 30s and have never eaten farro or fennel. I have no excuse for avoiding farro, but I will say that I knew fennel had the taste and aroma of licorice, which is something that I've never liked, so at least I had a somewhat legitimate reason for not tasting it until now. Now that I've actually tried them, I really enjoyed both, especially together!

I sauteed the fennel quite a bit with a touch of sugar, and as its texture softened, so did its licorice-y flavor. It became subtle and downright pleasant! Plus, as it turns out, farro is nothing like white rice but is instead wonderfully nutty and chewy and healthful, and I regret that I haven't been eating it all of my life!

The combination of soft and somewhat piquant fennel and that wholesome, earthy flavor of the farro is brought to perfection with a tiny bit of dill and a generous handful of toasted almonds. You've got crunch, you've got chew, you've got umami, and you've got a tiny bit of sweet. It's a side dish for the ages, colorless and drab though it may appear!

Flavorful and Filling Farro with Fennel
(printable recipe)
Serves 3-4
  • 2/3 cup pearled farro*, rinsed
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds, toasted
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
Bring a quart of salted water to boil in a large pot.
Once boiling, add the farro and cook uncovered for 16-18 minutes, until toothsome but soft.
While the farro is cooking, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; add a swirl of oil.
Chop any stems off of the fennel and cut out the core; chop the remaining fennel into pieces about 1/4-inch big.
Saute the fennel and sugar for 8-10 minutes, until soft, slightly translucent, and fragrant.
Season the fennel with dill, salt, and pepper, to taste.
Simply combine the fennel, farro, and almonds and stir, then serve!

*Pay attention to the type of farro you're using! Pearled farro will take less time to cook than semi-pearled farro, which will take less time to cook than whole.


Angie's Recipes said...

I love both! A great idea of pairing them together for a power bowl.

Pam said...

This sounds good, Grace! I've never had farro but will try it now. And I don't care for licorice but love the taste of fennel in a lot of dishes. Not sure I could win Bill over with this though so will have to make it for myself!

Pam said...

Good for you for trying something new! I love the combination of flavors and textures. Yum!

Juliana said...

I had both before, but not together...now that I know the combination works, I will give this a try next time I get fennel.
I hope you are having a nice week :)

Marjie said...

I've never even heard of farro. I've also never tried fennel, although fennel seeds are great in spaghetti sauce - they make it taste reminiscent of sausage, without the actual sausage in the sauce! Way to go, trying 2 new things at once!

All That I'm Eating said...

Well you can't do much better than that! Trying two new ingredients and loving both of them!

Barbara said...

Love this, Grace! Farro is fabulous...so versatile! I even made a farro oatmeal!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I have never tried fennel, for the same reasons. Farro I tried in the hot bar at our co-op a while ago and really enjoyed it.
I will have to venture out of my comfort zone, and try this recipe!

Marcelle said...

Well, Grace this sounds like an interesting dish. I've never tried farro or fennel either, but now I have a good recipe to dive in with both ingredients. I'm glad it worked out and it really does look healthy!