Most of the grain bowls that happen in my house are serendipitous.
Leftovers (last night’s sautéed greens, Thursday’s brown rice, a hunk of poached salmon) scooped into a bowl and garnished with various salty condiments (pickles, kimchi, fermented red chiles) and a sliced vegetable (radishes, carrots or cucumber) make a dish that is easier than takeout and a whole lot better for you. And then there’s the satisfaction of using up all those small containers of food your partner was about to throw out.
There are other times, though, when a grain bowl craving hits and the refrigerator is bare. That’s when you need a recipe like this.
Vegetable-forward yet cozy, it has a variety of textures and a lemony kick to keep things interesting bite after bite. It’s a little more labor-intensive than raiding your leftovers, but still faster and more healthful than anything you can order in.
It starts with farro.
Cooking farro until it’s tender can be tricky because there’s so much variation in what you can buy: It can be sold as a whole grain, a semi-pearled grain with some of the bran removed, or a pearled grain with all the bran removed. The more intact the bran, the longer the cooking time, which usually ranges from 20 to 40 minutes. To deal with this, I boil farro like pasta in a pot of salted water. If the water starts to evaporate before the farro is done, just add more water and keep going. This even works for the unlabeled bulk stuff from the health food store.
To streamline things, I boil the eggs in the farro pot, removing them when the yolks are still wobbly. Scrub the eggs well under running water; you want the shells to be very clean.
While the farro simmers, you can broil the broccoli until the tiny buds blacken and crisp, and slice up some firm juicy turnips or radishes for another kind of crunch.
To tie it all together, everything is doused in a creamy, lemony tahini sauce with a velvety texture and garlicky bite.
Served as is, the dish and its flavors are mellow enough for kids. But a topping of sliced chiles, hot sauce or kimchi adds a smack of heat that is very adult indeed.