Farro and Cauliflower Parmesan
This dish has all of the crispy-melty-tomatoey appeal of a chicken or eggplant Parmesan, but it uses only one pot. Olive oil provides richness, and broiling lends a cheesy crunch without the mess of breading and frying. The pizzalike flavors and mellow cauliflower make it a (potentially) kid-friendly meal. Feel free to omit the olives if that makes more sense for your family. In fact, this dish is highly customizable: Add more or less red-pepper flakes, throw in some capers or use broccoli rabe instead of cauliflower. Any salty, hard aged cheese will work in place of Parmesan, like asiago or pecorino. Leftovers are great crisped in the oven.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 1 ½pounds cauliflower (about 1 small cauliflower head or 1/2 large cauliflower head), florets and tender stems cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 ¾cups semi-pearled or pearled farro (about 12 ounces)
- 1(32-ounce) jar good-quality marinara sauce
- ¼cup olive oil
- ½cup pitted kalamata or black olives, roughly chopped (optional)
- 8garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 3ounces grated Parmesan (about 3/4 cup finely grated)
- 1 ½teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½teaspoons dried oregano
- 1teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
- 1 ½teaspoons kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1cup panko
- 2ounces grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup finely grated)
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- 8ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds
Step 1Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, combine the cauliflower, farro, marinara sauce, olive oil, olives (if using), garlic, Parmesan, sugar, onion powder, oregano, vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Season with the salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Pour in 1 2/3 cups water and stir well to combine. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
Step 2Uncover the pan, stir, and continue baking uncovered until the farro is tender-chewy and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes more. (If the farro has already soaked up all the sauce and the pan is looking dry, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, just to make sure the farro has enough liquid to become tender and saucy.)
Step 3Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the topping: Stir together the panko, Parmesan and olive oil.
Step 4Turn on the broiler. Evenly cover the top of the farro with the panko topping. Top with the sliced mozzarella. Broil on the top rack, about 6 inches from the heat source, for 2 minutes, rotating the pan once and watching carefully for burning, until the panko topping is deeply browned and the mozzarella has melted.