A while ago, I made this dish of creamy barley risotto with root vegetables. Celery root is not in season, so I used sweet potatoes instead; I thought that the honey played off the earthiness of the beets nicely and I enjoyed the addition of apple juice to the broth in the risotto. And while I loved the resulting dish, eating so much of it that I needed Google to explain to me that my pee was orange because I had eaten such potent beets and not because of an emergent liver problem, it turns out the other members of my family did not much care for this risotto.
A few weeks later, I tried a similar dish again when I made farro-vegetable hash with chermoula. I changed some quantities to feed my family for two nights (4 sweet potatoes, 8 ounces of bacon, 2 sweet onions, 1 ½ cups of farro, and a second round of eggs on night 2). Also, because it’s a bit involved as a dish, I had to rush at some point if I was ever going to get dinner on the table, so I cubed the sweet onions rather than coarsely chopping them, and I didn’t get a good sear on the vegetables. Luckily, I had quick-cooking farro, which takes only 10 minutes to boil instead of 30 to 40 minutes, and obviously that’s what I would recommend. I had fewer herbs than I would have needed, so the only way to make the chermoula was with an immersion blender, which I’ll note below. But honestly, even though this dish was a hassle, it was totally worth it! The Engineer and I really liked it, and the kids found enough pieces of something edible to not go hungry.
The quantities below should make 4 servings, but check my notes above or increase quantities according to your taste if needed. Note that benne seeds are actually a kind of heirloom sesame seeds, but if you can’t find any, you can either use sesame seeds or omit them altogether (I omitted them only because I completely forgot and I was kicking myself for it).
For the chermoula
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 cups (lightly packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems
2 cups (lightly packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
1 cup (lightly packed) mint leaves
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I used a pinch of Korean pepper)
For the hash
¾ cup whole farro (see note above)
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.), scrubbed, cut into ½" pieces
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped (or more)
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup brussels sprouts, leaves removed, cores thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. toasted benne or sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
4 over-easy or fried eggs (I think poached eggs would be good as well)
For the chermoula
Toast coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and just beginning to take on color, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill or mortar and pestle and let cool. Add peppercorns and finely grind; set aside.
Purée cilantro, parsley, mint, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and ¼ cup water in a blender (I needed an immersion blender), adding more water 1 Tbsp. at a time if needed, until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a small bowl. Add oil, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and reserved spice mixture. Season chermoula with salt and more lemon juice if needed.
For the hash
Cook farro in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente, 30–40 minutes (unless it’s quick-cooking farro – mine takes 10 minutes). Drain farro well and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 °F. Toss sweet potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 Tbsp. oil to coat; season with salt. Roast, tossing halfway through, until lightly browned and tender, 12–15 minutes.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and mostly crisp, 7–9 minutes. Add onion and thyme and cook, tossing occasionally, until onion is softened, 6–8 minutes. Add garlic and brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until garlic is softened and brussels sprouts are bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add farro, sweet potatoes, and 1 Tbsp. benne seeds. Cook hash, tossing occasionally, until farro is warmed through, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide hash among plates and top with eggs. Spoon chermoula over and sprinkle with benne seeds.