In Autumn begins a season of roasting. The snap of cold air is here to stay, earthy vegetables like beets are in season, and nothing beats the deep flavor of caramelization the oven provides. That was the only inspiration for this recipe—that and the remains of my last shipment of vegetables from this year's CSA. I slid the red and golden beets (peeled and sliced thin) and a leafy bunch of kale into the oven and set out to figure out how to serve them.
The answer came when I found a bag of farro in the pantry, the nutty grain that's as healthy as brown rice but cooks in half the time (while tasting twice as good). It never seems to get mushy and pairs perfectly with in-season vegetables (In summer, I tossed it with sautéed slices of zucchini with plenty of garlic, and added a dollop of pesto). The roasted kale was especially cool, tender in parts and starting to crisp in others, which added fantastic texture, and even though the beets turned my entire dinner pink, I sort of liked it. Though it's not pictured, the pièce de résistance was crumbles of goat cheese which took it to the next level of awesome. I was surprised at how delicious it all came out, the way simple in-season food often does.
The filling farro makes this a satisfying main. But I'm also filing this away for Thanksgiving. It would make a perfect side dish or, sans goat cheese, a vegan main course. Carrots, parsnips, and many other root vegetables could join or stand in for the beets.
- 3 beets, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 2 bunches kale, tough ribs removed and leaves roughly torn
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pound farro (pearlized)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Spread beets, kale, and garlic on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Roast until the beets are soft and the kale is tender, 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cover farro with cold water in medium saucepan, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain excess water, then add roasted vegetables and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and divide amongst bowls. Crumble goat cheese and serve hot or warm.