Cheesy Farro and Kale Bake

I LOVE macaroni  and cheese. So much in fact, that last year, my roommate and I essentially ate mac and cheese {almost} every Thursday night for a good duration of the school year. We generally relied on the “blue box”, which is not the healthiest choice by any means, but we added tuna for some omega-3s and to bulk up the nutrition and tiny bit.

Eventually, I got tired of the weekly “blue box” routine and swore off mac and cheese for a while, even though there is one lonely box left in my pantry that remains from the ginormous Sam’s Purchase.

Lately, I’ve been more into “gourmet” mac and cheese recipes, especially those that can/have been modified to be a healthier option. For example, have you ever tried mixing puréed cauliflower with your mac and cheese? Super yummy and you can’t even tell it’s there (that’s a recipe for another time!)

Now onto today’s recipe, Cheesy Farro and Kale!

First, what the heck is farro? I was introduced to this whole grain during my grocery store rotation at GIANT during my dietetic internship. Farro is an ancient grain that can easily be substituted for pasta or rice in most any recipe and has a somewhat nutty flavor that is comparable to brown rice. Nutritionally, farro is chock full of fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. Want to learn more about farro (and other whole grains)? Check out  the Whole Grains Council.

Moving on to one of my favorite greens — kale! If you’ve been visiting the farmer’s market lately, you’ve probably seen kale. Along with other greens, kale is the best food source of vitamin K. Additionally greens are packed with calcium and magnesium (strong bones anyone?), vitamin A, folate, and fiber.

Cheesy Farro and Kale Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, cooked (you probably could use a little more, this was all I had left!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup skim milk, hot (but not boiling!)
  • ~ 1 cup Parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, and Gruyère cheese, shredded (use more or less of each for your own combination; also, feel free to sub other yummy cheeses)
  • Breadcrumbs for a crispy topping (use at your own discretion)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking dish.
  2. Cook the farro according to package directions.
  3. Sauté the garlic in a pan. Add kale and sauté. Remove from heat.
  4. In a clean saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add flour and stir to form a smooth paste. Add milk and stir constantly until thickened. Add shredded cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Combine farro, kale, and cheese sauce in a bowl. Transfer to baking dish and cover with breadcrumbs. Bake until the top is browned

Recipe adapted from Carlene’s Figments

Enjoy this cheesy, whole-grain comfort food dish for a healthier mac and cheese fix.

What is your favorite comfort food? Have you ever tried farro?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Cheesy Farro and Kale Bake

  1. I tend to think of many of autumn’s foods as comfort – roasted veggies, pot of beans, brown rice. I love a bowl of spiced up mashed potatoes.

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