This roasted chicken with farro and fresh spring veggies is a delightful and complete dinner recipe that you can easily prepare for a week night meal.
I simply cannot run away from the fact that I love my grains. Growing up in Brazil, we would eat rice and beans every day. The meat choices would change from day to day. Some days we had salad or vegetables on the side, perhaps fried plantains or yuca, but we always had rice and beans!
These days I do not eat this power duo very often, but when I do it’s always at my Mother’s house. After all, nobody else can make beans taste like I am in Brazil again (they are so good!).
But you see, I love change, food and exploring new territories. In fact at my house I am known as the “let’s try a new breakfast place” lady. Of course, there is a story behind this…
My family and I used to go to Cape Cod on Memorial Day Weekend. We always stayed at the same place, and across from the hotel there was this “conveniently” located breakfast place, which is where we ALWAYS ate breakfeast. After a couple years of eating at the same breakfast joint, I decided that it was time for a change. I mean, as far as I am concerned, the fun of vacationing is exploring! So one glorious morning, I shouted with excitement; “let’s try a new breakfast place!”. Let me just say this, you would think that I had recommended the death of the Pope! There was a 5 second period of absolute dead silence which triggered me to look back, only to find them all staring at me with faces that read anything from “are you crazy” to “can we just leave her in the room”, then someone said “what?” in complete confusion as to why would anyone want to try a new breakfast place.
From then on, I became the “let’s try a new breakfast place lady”, a.k.a. the party pooper (if it makes any sense!). So to say the least, I am always trying new things.
Back to the grain. Farro is an ancient grain that is now seeing popularity due to the increased interest in whole grains and our love for Italian food. Nowadays you can easily find farro in soups, salads and as a healthy substitute for pasta and rice. For this reason I became a fan of this grain but I confess it was a little overwhelming at first. My natural instinct was to treat it as a brown rice, which we all know takes longer to cook than white rice (for some varieties it can take up to twice as long!). WRONG! Depending on the type of farro you get, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour! Confused ? let me break it down to you.
Farro comes in three varieties; Whole Grain, which requires overnight soaking or else forget about it. After soaking it, bring to a boil and simmer for about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on your taste (I like mine softer). The Semipearled and Pearled varieties do not require overnight soaking, and cooking times are only 25 to 30 minutes, for semipearled and 10 to 15 minutes for pearled type. To add flavor to this nutty grain I use a 1 tablespoon of chicken base or 2 cups of chicken broth, if that’s what you prefer.
This delicious roasted chicken dish with farro and fresh spring garden flavors can pop up on your table in just under an hour. It doesn’t require a lot of attention, while chicken roasts and farro simmers you can help out your kiddos with homework. This is a serious no brainer meal, filled with great flavors and nutritional values.
The left overs (if any, no promises) are great served cold, as a salad. Perhaps freshen up with sprinkled feta cheese and parsley.
If your diet does not allow for grains, a great healthy substitute for this meals is cauliflower rice. You can check out my Paleo Cauliflower Rice recipe here.
- 1½ lb boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup (8 oz) semi-pearled farro
- 1 tbsp chicken base (dissolved into 2 cups of water); or chicken broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 leek, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, whole or sliced
- ½ cup fresh peas
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring chicken base (or chicken broth) plus 2 cups of water to a boil and add farro. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until taro is tender. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking broth and drain the farro to get rid of the excess liquid. Set aside.
- Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- In a large ovenproof skillet or cast iron, over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, place chicken, presentation side down, in the skillet and cook. Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer skillet or cast iron to the oven and roast chicken for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a second skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add leeks, shallots and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add lemon zest, tomatoes and peas. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add cooked farro and stir to combine. If farro seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking broth to moisten. Add basil, lemon juice and grated cheese. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer farro to a large platter. Slice chicken and arrange over farro. Garnish with additional cheese, parsley and sea salt.
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Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
Note: I credit this recipe to a recent cooking class I joined at Sur La Table. Thank you for the inspiration!