The simple combination of a lean protein, whole grains, and a colorful array of vegetables creates a nutritionally balanced and simple meal. While plain grains and protein may taste bland, this meal can be a template for a variety of flavors. Lately, I’ve been enjoying this farro stir-fry for dinners (and the leftovers for lunches) – the recipe is simple, the meal is nourishing and satisfying, and the flavor adds a delicious twist on a basic dish.
You can use any type of lean protein you wish. I have made this dish with chicken, leftover beef roast, and chickpeas, all of which taste delicious with the sauce. You can try different vegetables, especially based on what is seasonally available. This dish is as versatile as it is easy to make!
Farro has essentially replaced brown rice in our household. Farro is nutritionally dense and quicker to prepare than brown rice, making it an ideal choice for a healthy whole grain in a weeknight meal. While brown rice requires a precise measurement of water and nearly an hour of cooking time, farro is cooked like pasta – in a pot of boiling water – and is ready in 30 minutes or less. (You can even soak your farro in advance to cut the cooking time down to 10-15 minutes.)
The seasonings add a delicious punch of flavor and a good nutritional boost. I use tamari sauce for my stir-frys. This is a type of fermented soy sauce that contains no wheat. Tamari provides a richer flavor, which means you use less of the sodium-rich sauce than you would with soy sauce. A hint of ginger enriches the flavor of this dish and balances out the saltiness of the tamari. Frequent consumption of fresh garlic promotes healthy cholesterol levels, heart health, and a strong immune system, all while adding a burst of delicious flavor.
The best thing about this meal? Leftovers! Especially when I’m training for a race and my nutritional needs are greater, I love having leftovers from dinner for a quick lunch that doesn’t skimp on nutrition and is more satiating than a sandwich.
- 1 cup dry farro
- 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8-10 cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 3 large carrots, julienned
- 1 red bell pepper, stem removed and thinly sliced
- 6-8 asparagus stalks, cut into thirds
- Salt, to taste
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch of ground ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons tamari sauce or soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 1 can (~1.5 cups cooked) chickpeas*
- Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat until boiling. Add the farro to the boiling water and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until al dente (or preferred texture). Start testing the texture at 20 minutes. Once cooked, drain through colander or sieve.
- While the farro is cooking, heat a wok, cast iron, or other large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, shallots, and mushrooms with a small pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the carrots, bell pepper, and asparagus. Stir the vegetable every couple minutes for even cooking, and cook until fork-tender (~15 minutes, depending on how thin the vegetable slices are and the size of your pan).
- Add the chickpeas to the vegetables and cook for a couple minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, tamari/soy sauce, ginger, and honey. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and chickpeas, toss to coat, and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with pepper to taste and, if needed, salt.
- Divide the farro and stir-fry evenly between four bowls. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.
- * You can also use 4-6 oz. of chicken per serving, 4 oz. of beef per serving or another protein of choice. I using raw meat, cut into thin slices or cubes and add to the pan first to allow time to cook fully before serving.
What are some of your go-to meals on a weeknight?