Admittedly, this one takes a bit of time to prepare. There’s drying and roasting and cooling and seasoning, but it’s worth it in the end. The fresh fennel gives an underlying strong taste which combines well with all of the herbs and seasoning. It comes from Melissa Clark in NYTimes Cooking and was the perfect match for the fresh fennel, basil, thyme and corn that had come in our CSA basket this week.
For a large bowl you’ll need 1-1/2 cup uncooked farro, x1 15oz can of chickpeas, x2 ears of corn (kernels cut from the ear lengthwise), 3-4 scallions (roughly chopped, some green included), 1/2 bulb fennel (thinly sliced), 1/3 cup fresh basil (chopped), x2 bay leaves, 3-4 whole sprigs fresh thyme (plus another 2-3 springs for removing the leaves), 1-2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp allspice, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt.
There’s a few separate steps to take.
First, drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them on top of 2 sheets of paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside and allow to dry for at least 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Fill a medium saucepan with water, bay leaves and thyme springs and about 1 Tbsp salt. Bring this to a boil and add the farro. Reduce heat, but keep it boiling, and cook uncovered until tender – about 25 mins. Drain, remove bay leaves and thyme springs and place farro into a large serving bowl and, while it’s still warm, toss with about 5 Tbsp olive oil, a good grinding of salt, 1 tsp cumin and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Place dried chickpeas into a bowl and toss with about 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (use just the leaves scraped between your fingers from the sprigs), some salt, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1 tsp cumin. Toss well to coat.
Place chickpeas back onto the rimmed baking sheet (remove the paper towels first) and place into the preheated oven. Roast for about 25-30 mins turning at least once halfway through – but more tossing while roasting is preferable to get even browning.
Scrape the corn kernels from the ears of corn with a sharp knife into a bowl. Lightly drizzle with olive just a pinch of salt and combine well.
Once browned, remove the roasted chickpeas from the oven and place on a large plate to cool. Spread the corn kernels onto the same roasting tray and place back into the oven, tossing several times throughout, until browned – about 20 mins.
Add the browned kernels, chopped basil, sliced scallions and thinly sliced fennel to the now room temperature farro and toss well to combine. Add a splash more of olive oil, cider vinegar and/or salt to adjust for taste.
Then add the crispy chickpeas just before serving so they don’t get soggy.
We ate this with hummus (yes, more chickpeas!) and warmed pita bread on the porch on a summer’s evening. Couldn’t be better.