Casseroles can be a great way to eat healthy during the summer. You can combine wholesome ingredients like farro (a wheat-based grain that is good and chewy when cooked properly) with fresh summer produce like tomatoes for a nutritious made-ahead meal (that means less time in the kitchen, and more time enjoying the sunshine!) And that’s exactly what the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book has done with this gratin.
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 1⅓ Cup farro (or pearled farro), rinsed and drained
- 3 Cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- ½ Teaspoon salt
- ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Cup shredded carrots (2 medium carrots)
- 1 Cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓ Cup snipped fresh basil
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Cup half-and-half or light cream
- ½ Cup grated Asiago cheese (2 ounces)
- ⅓ Cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons coarsely snipped fresh Italian parsley
- 6 Ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
Lightly coat a 2-quart au gratin or baking dish with olive oil cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add the farro, stirring to coat it in oil. Add the broth, salt, and pepper. Return to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until tender (or about 25 minutes if you’re using pearled farro).
Remove the farro mixture from heat and stir in the carrots, tomatoes, and basil. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrape the farro mixture into the prepared dish and spread it into a thin layer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over farro mixture, stirring gently to combine.
In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and parsley; sprinkle over the farro and egg mixture. Place asparagus spears in a crisscross pattern over the top of the dish. Lightly coat the asparagus and crumb mixture with additional olive oil cooking spray.
Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.