Back to reality

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on January 4, 2011

I think I’ve heard almost everyone I know utter this phrase this week (myself included).  After two long weekends in a row, both with some over indulging, “back to reality” has a kind of comforting ring to it right now rather than the usual drudgery.  Back to work, back to the gym, back to routine, back to foods without 2 cups of sugar and sticks of butter in the ingredients.  It’s Tuesday night and I’m definitely feeling on track already.  After a much needed trip to Whole Foods, tonight I cooked up some baked farro pasta to have for lunches this week.

Baked Farro Pasta (slightly modified from 101Cookbooks)

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and some for the baking dish
  • 2 medium leeks, diced
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 medium head of Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp (or however many healthy dashes you like) of red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces farro pasta (I used the penne shapes)
  • 4 ounces of Fontina cheese (or another soft-rind cheese, see 101 recipe for recommendations)

Cut and boil your potatoes until tender; drain, salt, and set aside. Boil your pasta with a healthy dash of salt in the water for flavor; strain and set aside.  In a medium skillet, melt the butter and add the leeks with a pinch of salt.  I seasoned this mixture with each step to ensure a tasty dish.  Once the leeks are smelling nice and are almost starting to brown, add the garlic and let that get fragrant for about a minute.  Next, add the cabbage and chicken stock.  Cover the skillet for a few minutes and cook until the cabbage is tender.  Take the skillet off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, mustard, and red pepper flakes.  Be sure the mixture is seasoned with salt and pepper to your taste.  In a buttered 9 x 13 layer half the pasta evenly on the bottom, then add a layer of half of the cabbage and leek mixture and half of the potatoes.  Add half the chunks of the fontina cheese.  On top of this add the remaining pasta, and then the remaining cabbage mixture and potatoes.  Top with the last chunks of cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 40-60 minutes until the top is nice and golden.


When I was layering this I thought to myself, “Boy, I hope I have enough of the cabbage mixture here!”.  I did.  When it bakes up everything gets nice and friendly and mixed up.  The changes I made from Heidi’s 101 version are as follows:  I used chicken stock rather than vegetable stock, mostly because that is what I had on hand but also because I am a meat eater and like the way meat flavorings make things taste good.  I decreased the amount of Parmesan cheese from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup generally to keep the dish on the healthier side (I did say back to reality right?).  Finally, I left out the sage and added the red pepper flakes instead.  While it would have been tasty I am sure, I felt the sage would add a sweetness to the dish and I was looking for something a little more savory.  I really enjoy the bit of kick the pepper flakes added to this.  I like these baked pasta dishes because they usually heat up very nicely the following day – I will test that theory with this dish tomorrow at the office.

baked farro pasta


3 Responses

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  1. Sarah said, on January 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Ooooh, a nice hearty lil meal for January. I like the cabbage & leek idea. Cabbage is so New Years-friendly too! I hope that the leftovers are good for lunch today!!
    As an anti-cheese person, I may need to substitute something else entirely for the parm & fontina. Perhaps some pulled chicken and some extra chicken stock?

  2. Meredith, daughter of David said, on January 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    This looks fantastic! Thanks for another great recipe Elizabeth! How were those reheated leftovers?

    • Elizabeth said, on January 6, 2011 at 8:45 am

      reheated leftovers were great – I have more for lunch today and am looking forward to it already!

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