Farro Pilaf with cranberries and walnuts is a tasty side dish, "stuffing" for a turkey and can even be served as a cold salad! It's vegan too!
Shhh...I’m messing with tradition. Just in case my family reads through this post before Thanksgiving, I want to assure everyone that we will have several kinds of stuffing: the original bread-based version, Vegan Stuffing Muffins, and this version!
Why so many? Well, I (and many others) love stuffing (me...more than the main attraction.) We always make double what we need so we can sit down with a big bowl and call it a meal the next day. Let's face it, stuffing really is a meal in and of itself often with all the main food groups covered.
But, all that bread can be overwhelming, even if you opt for the whole wheat kind. So, since I discovered farro, I'm going a whole new route.
What is farro and how do you cook it?
The star of this dish is the ancient grain farro.
I'm a newish convert! It's been around a long time and I see why it has made a resurgence in popularity. It tastes good!
The slightly nutty and chewy texture is perfect for a salad, pilaf or stuffing. We used it to make Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash.
There are nutritional benefits too including that it's a good source of protein, fiber, and iron. Note that farro is a grain and is NOT gluten-free.
There are several forms of farro: pearled, semi-pearled and whole. The less-processed the grain, the more health benefits. I used pearled farro (the most processed choice)...and ¼ cup still boasts 5 grams fiber and 7 grams protein.
To cook farro, bring a pot of water to a boil, add farro to the pot, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. The water will not be completely absorbed so drain off excess liquid.
Make ahead tip: Cooked farro stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Ingredients in Farro Pilaf
In addition to farro, ingredients used in the recipe are:
- Walnuts - Toast walnuts in the pan that will be used to make this dish. It adds about 5 minutes to the cook time. But, toasting the walnuts releases the oils and deepens the flavor. It's worth it! Almonds can also be used.
- Onion - Soften diced yellow onion in olive oil.
- Celery - Cook diced celery at the same time as the onion.
- Dried cranberries - Add a pop of sweet flavor in this savory dish with dried fruit like cranberries, raisins or even apricots.
- Thyme - Fresh or dried thyme flavors season this recipe.
- Apple cider vinegar - stir this ingredient in at the end.
How to serve Farro Pilaf or Stuffing
Stuff the bird with this beauty or enjoy it as a warm side dish. Either way, it's sure to be a hit.
Follow this guidance from the USDA regarding Turkey Basics: Stuffing if cook the stuffing inside the bird. The internal temperature (of the stuffing and not just the bird) needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The nice thing about farro pilaf is that it tastes delicious hot or cold, like a salad.
Farro pilaf actually tastes better the longer it sits and marinates. It's a good thing too because I plan on sitting down to a big bowl on Black Friday. 🙂
In fact, it can be bottled up in mason jars, just like we do for Vegetable Rice Pilaf and enjoyed for lunches all week long.
How to freeze Farro Pilaf
We suggest preparing the recipe without the toasted walnuts. Mix everything together and store in a plastic freezer bag. Try to remove as much air as possible before sealing it up.
Use the recipe within two months of freezing. To defrost, move the bag to the refrigerator overnight. Or, defrost and cook in the microwave. Prepare and add the toasted walnuts before serving.
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Farro Pilaf or "Stuffing" with Cranberries and Walnuts
- 1 cup Farro
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Cook farro according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat frying pan over medium high heat, add walnuts and toast for about 5 minutes or until lightly fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Remove walnuts from pan and chop. Add walnuts to bowl with cooked farro.
- Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.
- Add onion and celery to pan and saute for about 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add cooked onion and celery to bowl with farro and walnuts.
- Stir cranberries, thyme and salt into the farro mixture.
- Toss farro mixture with apple cider vinegar.
- Use stuffing in any recipe that calls for stuffing or serve as a warm or cold side.
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