Zesty Italian Farro Bowl – a simple Italian recipe featuring chewy farro, spicy garlic chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, shaved fennel, olives and a lemon-mustard vinaigrette.
Do you ever open the door to an empty fridge? Hmm, what can I make with these odds and ends? Half a fennel bulb, leftover farro salad, a half jar of olives, a few aging tomatoes, some pepperoncini, feta and a lemon.
Add a can of chickpeas from the pantry and you’ve got yourself a great odds and ends meal!
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The Zesty Italian Farro Bowl was born. Farro is one of my favorite grains. It’s kind of like rice, but chewier and nuttier. Crispy chickpeas seemed like the perfect protein, because crispy chickpeas are just so delicious.
I roasted the tomatoes and left the fennel raw (I love the crunchiness of raw fennel). I added some pepperoncini and olives. Sorry Dad, we’ve come around to liking olives now. That briny flavor and meaty texture brings this dish to another level.
I added some feta and parsley, then whipped up a quick lemon-mustard vinaigrette and bam! You have this delicious Zesty Italian Bowl.
It’s perfect for a weeknight meal and you can prep the farro in advance for an even quicker meal. It’s also great for those with picky eaters. This dish is easily customizable and you can add or leave off what suits you – each person can add what they like!
Chickpeas – either canned or soaked and cooked work. If you’re using canned, make sure to drain and rinse them, but don’t toss the chickpea liquid. Use it to make aquafaba mousse! We’re going to spice up these chickpeas and get them nice and crispy.
Farro – a nutty and chewy whole grain. You can also use wheat berries if you can’t find farro.
Cherry tomatoes – opt for organic, if you can, since tomatoes are often part of the dirty dozen.
Fennel – aka anise, found in the vegetable section. It tastes somewhat like black licorice. Don’t toss the fennel fronds. You can toss them on this farro Buddha bowl for some extra flavor.
Pepperoncini – these are pickled banana peppers and, if it were up to Dalton, we’d always have a large jar of them in the fridge. Look for a jar without any added coloring. You should be able to find them in the condiments or Italian sections of the store.
Olives – totally optional if you’re not an olive fan. But as a fellow not-olive fan, I must say, they add a nice texture and briny-ness to this Italian Buddha bowl.
Parsley – Use fresh for sure and chop up and toss the stems in too.
Feta – Skip or use vegan feta if you’re vegan.
Shallot – they’re like an onion, but have a more delicate, less pungent flavor. Great for dressings since they’re less pungent even raw.
Lemon – real lemon juice is best. We’re also going to toss the crispy chickpeas with the lemon zest for some extra zing.
Dijon – In a pinch you could use regular mustard, but opt for Dijon if you can.
Honey – I love using honey because it provides a few extra nutrients and anti-bacterial compounds compared to regular sweeteners, though it is still sugar so be mindful of portion sizes in general. Use maple syrup if you’re vegan.
Olive oil – look for extra virgin olive oil and, since we’re using it in a dressing, opt for a better quality one if you can.
🔪 How to make this Zesty Italian Bowl
1 – Cook farro. Combine farro and about 3 cups of water (you can cook farro like you cook pasta – use plenty of water) in a medium pot, bring to a bowl and let simmer until the farro is tender but chewy, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2 – Roast chickpeas. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, salt and cayenne. Mix until the chickpeas are well coated. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. We’ll add the tomatoes to the same pan and roast everything for another 15 minutes. After the chickpeas have roasted, toss them with the lemon zest.
3 – Roast tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the bowl you mixed the chickpeas in, and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and add the tomatoes to the same pan. Roast for 15 minutes.
4 – Prepare dressing. In a small bowl or jar, add shallot, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey and olive oil. Shake or whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
5 – Assemble: Divide farro, tomatoes, and spicy garlic chickpeas between four bowls. Add shaved fennel, pepperoncini, and olives. Garnish with chopped parsley and feta, then top with lemon-mustard vinaigrette. Enjoy!
💭 Tips, Tricks and Tools
Save the chickpea liquid (a.k.a aquafaba). Use it to make mousse, meringues and more!
Make it vegan by using vegan feta. Or go for a non-vegetarian version by adding chicken or pepperoni.
This Zesty Italian Bowl is a balanced vegetarian meal. It contains carbohydrates (farro, chickpeas, fennel, tomatoes), protein (chickpeas), fat (olives, olive oil, feta) and fiber (farro, chickpeas, veggies, olives).
It’s high in fiber and a good source of vitamin C and plant-based protein. Feel free to add chicken or pepperoni for a non-vegetarian meal.
More seasonal Buddha bowl recipes
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Zesty Italian Farro Bowl
- 1 can (15-oz) chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- zest of one lemon (use the juice in the dressing)
- 1 cup farro or wheat berries
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper freshly ground to taste
- 1 bulb fennel shaved
- 1/2 cup pepperoncini
- olives optional
- parsley for garnish
- feta for garnish
Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette
- 1 shallot (small) sliced
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
- Cook farro. Combine farro with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until farro is tender and chewy. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Roast chickpeas. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. After roasting, toss the chickpeas with lemon zest and set aside.
- Roast tomatoes. Add tomatoes to the bowl you used to season the chickpeas. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and add the tomatoes to the same pan. Roast both chickpeas and tomatoes for 15 minutes.
- Prepare dressing. In a small bowl or jar, combine shallots, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil. Whisk or shake to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble: Divide farro, crispy chickpeas and tomatoes between four bowls. Add shaved fennel, pepperoncini and olives. Top with the lemon-mustard vinaigrette and garnish with chopped parsley and feta. Enjoy!
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