Farro is a favorite at Casa Levitt, it’s versatility makes it a natural base for garden vegetables at any time of year. Farro, Eggplant & Pomegranate Salad bridges the seasons nicely by featuring summer eggplants and early fall pomegranate seeds. An absolutely ideal dish to prepare when entertaining mixed company: vegetarians and carnivores.
The ingredients all typically Italian, once again reflect the influences of the Mediterranean. Jewel like pomegranate seeds add a distinctive sweet yet somewhat tannic flavor. Our two trees have been quite prolific this summer but as you can see, the exterior of the fruit is not the deep ruby color typical of pomegranates. Why you may ask, well it has nothing to do with the trees, or my proficiency and lack there of as an arborist. Our little neighborhood has be plagued and I mean plagued with squirrels; it seems as though as soon as the fruit reaches a reasonable level of ripeness, it is open season for the darling critters to help themselves. An early harvest seems to be the only way we can hold on to at least part of the crop.
As for removing the seeds with a minimum of difficulty, the internet hosts multiple instructional posts and videos which will make this process tolerable. A good piece of advice – try to do this in the kitchen sink to contain the mess; pomegranate seeds tend to fly about and the juice will stain clothing so be prepared. No time to develop a relationship with a pomegranate? The seeds are readily available in any number of markets.
Don’t be discouraged by what seems to be multiple steps in this recipe. Farro, Eggplant & Pomegranate Salad can be done in phases a day or two before you plan to serve it. Start by roasting the eggplant and cooking the farro – both of which will hold nicely in the refrigerator. Consider seeding the pomegranate ahead of time as well. The remaining ingredients take no time at all to add on the day you serve the salad.
Farro, Eggplant & Pomegranate Salad pairs well with roasted meats and fish, as a side for pizza, or a substantial vegetarian entrée.
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- 17½ ounces of dried farro
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 medium sized eggplant, washed
- Olive oil
- 1 15½ ounce can of ceci beans or chick peas, drained and well rinsed
- 1 English style cucumber, peeled seeded and diced
- Seeds of one pomegranate, be sure that none of the connective material remains
- ½ cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup of fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
- 2 Tbs. Pomegranate syrup
- Juice of one lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the eggplant into 1 inch thick slices, leaving the skin on. Cut the slices into 1" cubes and place the cubes in a colander over a large bowl or in a clean kitchen sink. Salt the eggplant using 1 to 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Cover the top with a clean cotton dish towel and place a heavy can or weight onto of the towel. Allow the salted eggplant to sit for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes rinse will with cold water to rid the eggplant of any salt and place the rinsed eggplant cubes on a clean cotton towel to dry.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F and line a heavy duty rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Place the dry eggplant cubes on the parchment and drizzle with some olive oil, use your judgement. Toss the eggplant to be sure that the pieces are more or less evenly coated with the olive oil. Place into the preheated oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until the eggplant pieces are nicely browned. The eggplant should be stirred once or twice during the roasting process to insure even browning. Allow the eggplant to cool.
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, add the bay leaves, unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the farro. Stir, return to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until the farro has softened but it is not mushy.
- Combine the 4 tablespoons of olive oil, sliced garlic cloves and some salt to a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Drain the farro well, remove the garlic & bay leaves and immediately add the farro to the oil, garlic & salt while the farro is warm which will allow the grains to absorb the flavor; let it sit for at least one hour. Once cooled you may add the roasted eggplant cubes and refrigerate.
- On the day you are ready to serve the salad add the ceci beans, cucumbers, and pomegranate seeds to the farro and eggplant. At this point taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Add the pomegranate syrup and half of the lemon juice, stir well; taste for the desired level of acidity and add more lemon juice if you like. Mix in the chopped parsley, torn mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and acidity balance once again, correct if necessary. The farro salad is ready to serve.