Baked Farro with Eggplant, Wild Mushrooms and Jalapeno Cheddar

Baked Farro with Eggplant, Wild Mushrooms and Jalapeno Cheddar

Happy Friday!  I hope you have exciting weekend plans (and if you do, can I come?  We don’t have much going on, so I’d be more than happy to tag along!).

So, how many of you out there have made resolutions or changes at the beginning of the New Year to eat better and exercise more?  I am one of those people.  I think we all have great intentions at the beginning of the year, but then what happens?

I will tell you that due to my ankle surgery in November I have gained weight and inches that I am all about losing.  We need to change some of our eating habits anyway.  We eat healthy foods, but there were definitely a few cheater moments during the holidays.

I can eat the eggplant and tomatoes I want on the low carb plan.

I am now on a no carb plan (South Beach Diet) for two weeks and then gradually add carbs back into my diet after that.  I have to tell you that I have seen (along with my Physical Therapist) a miraculous change in the swelling in my ankle since I cut the carbs.  Does that tell you something? I am pretty amazed.

Now to the important stuff! When the nice people at Roland Foods sent me an awesome goodie package filled with all sorts of specialty and gourmet foods, I was very excited to try them out!  That, of course, took a bit of time.

The Balsamic glazes are great drizzled over chicken.

I had fun playing with their Balsamic glazes, wine jellies, pastas and other specialty foods.  They make all kinds of great products!

The one item that really interested me was Farro. According to the information I could find on Farro, it is an ancient grain (wheat) that was originally domesticated in the Middle East.  It also grows wild and in cultivated varieties in other parts of the world, where it remains popular, such as parts of Europe and Asia.  Italians have long embraced Farro, but apparently, it is making a comeback in other parts of the world, especially among health enthusiasts and fancy home cooks (like you and me!).  You can read more about Farro here.

Roasted eggplant, Heirloom tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella drizzled with Balsamic Fig Glaze.

Farro needs to be cooked slightly, but don’t overdo it.  We really liked the nutty and almost crunchy texture of the grain (cook it al dente).  We also preferred the Farro cooked in just a bit of homemade chicken stock or a really good chicken broth (I use Swanson’s Organic Chicken Broth) rather than a bunch of seasonings to overpower the flavor of the grain.

Farro is perfect paired with roasted or sauteed vegetables for a quick and healthy meal.  I also added roasted chicken and some Jalapeño Cheddar Cheese for a heartier and very tasty dinner.  We liked the spicy cheese and thought it complimented the rest of the dish very well.

This is one whole grain that I will be adding back into my diet after the first two weeks when I start to have carbs again.  It is healthy, satisfying and cooks quickly for a weeknight dinner.  Mr. Bunkycooks even likes it!  What’s the chance of that? 😉

Gift basket from Roland Foods

Now, I know what you all really came here for…the giveaway!!  Roland Foods is going to give this gift basket filled with all sorts of their specialty and gourmet foods to one of my readers!  This is the first giveaway of 2011 on Bunkycooks and I am really excited!  In fact, you can enter to win two giveaways!  Here are the details!


Facebook giveaway:

Roland Foods is pleased to announce their Free Product of The Month Giveaway!  Starting Monday, January 10, 2011, the first 50 people to visit their Facebook Giveaway page this month, fill out the entry form and “Like” them will receive a bottle of their delicious Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil (SRP $24).  How easy is that?!  The giveaway page will be up on Monday.

Be sure to forward this email to your family and friends, so they can enter to win as well.

If you are already a fan of Roland Foods on Facebook, be sure to stay tuned for other giveaways that will draw from their existing fan base.

Now, here’s the drill to enter my  giveaway for the Roland gift basket!

Regretfully, due to the weight and contents of this bag (things that break easily), this basket can only be shipped to a winner in the U.S.  I apologize to my readers that live outside of the U.S.

Here is how you enter:
Leave a comment on this post telling me what product you most want to try from the Roland Foods gift basket.

Extra Entries:
Here are four additional ways that you can enter.

1. Follow @bunkycooks on Twitter. Leave a comment here indicating that you are now a follower. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

2. Tweet about this giveaway. Here is the link to tweet Leave a comment and tell me that you have tweeted it.

3. Become a fan of Bunkycooks on Facebook. Leave a comment here indicating you are now a fan. If you are already a fan, you can leave a comment saying you are.

4. Subscribe to Bunkycooks by RSS feed or email. Leave a comment saying you are now a subscriber. If you are already a subscriber, you can leave a comment saying you are.

*** Please be sure to leave separate comments as they are easier to count! Thank you!

The more times you leave a comment, the more chances you have to win! That would be 5 chances total (but, who’s counting?!). I will be using to pick the winner.
This giveaway ends at 5 pm EST on Friday, January 14th.

I will notify the winner by email. Please get back to me with your shipping information within 48 hours.




Baked Farro with Eggplant, Wild Mushrooms and Jalapeño Cheddar Cheese

Serves 3 as a main dish


1 chicken breast, bone-in and skin on
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2/1 to 3 cups Homemade Chicken Stock or Swanson’s Organic Chicken Broth
8 ounces Farro
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 small eggplant (6 inches in length), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3/4 cup mixed, wild mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (be sure they are nicely browned)
4 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced (reserve one for garnish)
1 1/4 cups grated Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese, or a little more, if you like things spicy (I used Yancey’s Fancy cheese)


Preheat oven the 350 degrees.

Rub a little olive oil on the chicken breast and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for thirty-five minutes, or until done (158 degrees). Remove from the oven. Tent with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to come to 160 degrees and then set aside until cool. When you can handle the chicken, remove the skin and bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add Farro, bring broth back to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for fifteen minutes. The Farro should be done. (You want it cooked, but still firm to the bite or al dente.) Drain off most of the excess broth and reserve the broth (you should have between 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth). Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat.

While the Farro is cooking, heat the olive oil in large skillet (12-inch) over medium heat. When oil is hot, not smoking, add red peppers, eggplant and mushrooms. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until vegetables are softened (eggplant will turn a brownish color). This should take about twelve minutes. Check for seasonings and set aside. Cover with a lid to keep warm.

Mix together the Farro, chicken breast pieces, vegetables, toasted pine nuts, three of the sliced green onions and 3/4 cup of the grated cheese in the saucepan. Put this mixture into a prepared casserole dish (9.5 inch oval or 1.25 quart). Pour reserved chicken broth over the top of the casserole. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes or until casserole is heated through and cheese has melted. Garnish with remaining sliced green onion. Serve immediately.


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