Eggplant, fennel, tomato, farro and fontina casserole
1 cup(s), quick-cooking variety (or regular if you prefer)
2½ tsp, divided
3 oz, rustic variety, cut into thick slices
2 medium, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 lb)
Uncooked fennel bulb(s)
1 item(s), large head, quartered, cored, coarsely chopped (save some fronds for garnish/about 1 1/4 lb)
3 Tbsp, divided
Fresh cherry tomato(es)
1½ pound(s), or grape tomatoes (mixed colors recommended)
Extra virgin olive oil
2½ Tbsp, divided
6 tsp, freshly chopped (2 Tbsp)
Red pepper flakes
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup(s), divided
6 oz, cut into ½-inch cubes, divided
Fresh baby spinach
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cook farro according to package directions using 1 tsp salt; drain (if necessary) and return to pot.
- While farro cooks, toast bread in regular oven or toaster oven until deep golden brown, flipping once, 1-2 minutes per side; set aside to cool.
- Line an extra large baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray (or just coat pan with cooking spray). Place eggplant and fennel on top; lightly coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp thyme and 1 tsp salt; gently toss to coat.
- Place tomatoes in a 9- X13-inch casserole dish with 1 ½ Tbsp oil, garlic, remaining 1 Tbsp thyme, red pepper flakes and remaining ½ tsp salt; toss to coat.
- Place sheet pan and casserole dish in oven; roast 20 minutes and then stir. Continue roasting until fennel and eggplant are tender and slightly browned, and tomatoes are juicy and tender, about 10-15 minutes more.
- Remove tomatoes and their liquid from casserole dish; set aside. Wipe pan clean; coat generously with cooking spray.
- Stir half of tomatoes and their juices into farro with ¼ c pecorino and 3 oz fontina.
- Place half of eggplant and fennel in bottom of casserole dish; top with half of farro mixture in an even layer. Scatter spinach over farro; top with remaining eggplant and fennel. Spoon remaining farro mixture over top; spoon on remaining tomato mixture.
- Tear bread into bite-size pieces and scatter over casserole; drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle with remaining ¼ c pecorino. Scatter remaining 3 oz fontina over top; cover with aluminum foil and bake, 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake until bread gets slightly crisp and casserole is hot throughout, 10 minutes more. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired, and serve.
- Serving size: 1 c