Burnt Broccoli Farro With Smashed Olives

November 11, 2021
17 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop stylist: Alya Hameedi.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Farro, an ancient grain with a nutty flavor and a dense texture and bite, is ideal for grain salad bowls like this one as it excels in soaking up dressing and is hearty without being heavy. Here, it’s tossed with a lemon-tahini dressing while hot and then mixed with broccoli and olives. The olives appear in two forms, first blistered along with the bite-sized pieces of broccoli in the pan, and then raw to add more texture and different flavors. Cooking the olives softens their bite while enhancing their flavors, making them plump and juicy. I love the mix of the two. Finished with a sprinkling of feta and quickie lime-pickled red onions, the dish gains an extra bit of creaminess and acidic crunch. Make it for dinner tonight and save some for lunch the next day.

Some housekeeping:

Use the farro cooking time to cut the onion and broccoli to be more efficient as you’ll have down time as it cooks. If you like a more pickled onion, then you can pickle it first so it sits longer with the lime juice.

The important thing here is to cut the broccoli into tiny pieces so that they cook quickly: think trunkless treetops when you look at them and ones you can truly eat in a bite. You can cook the stems, too, just add them to the pan a little earlier or cook separately if it’s too crowded.

To smash olives: On a cutting board, press the heel of your hand on the flat side of your knife to flatten the olive. The pit will either pop out or you can remove the flesh with your fingers. —yasminfahr

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Burnt Broccoli Farro With Smashed Olives
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup pearled farro, rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small head broccoli, florets cut into small, bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup castelvetrano olives, smashed and pits removed, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  1. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Let cook, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until the farro is soft and not chewy, about 30 minutes. Drain and return to the pot or to a serving bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the red onions with the lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt (they won’t be submerged, and that’s okay). Set aside at room temperature and toss occasionally.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, add the broccoli and half the olives, season with salt and red-pepper flakes, stir and then let sit in an even layer untouched for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook until the broccoli is browned on the other side and fork tender and the olives blistered in spots, 2 to 3 minutes more. (Larger pieces will take longer.) Set aside until the farro is done.
  4. Transfer 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pickled onions to a small mixing bowl or in the bottom of a serving bowl. Combine with the tahini and 3 tablespoons olive oil, whisking until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Pour the dressing over the farro in the pot or transfer it to the serving bowl and toss with the dressing. Season with salt as needed. Add the broccoli, cooked olives and remaining olives, then top with the feta and pickled onions.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Wouter
  • Deborah Jones McKeeman
    Deborah Jones McKeeman
  • yasminfahr
  • thenenebean
Yasmin is a recipe developer and cookbook author. Her first book, Keeping it Simple, is full of easy, weeknight one-pot recipes. Say hi to her online @yasminfahr!

16 Reviews

Wouter February 29, 2024
This is one of those recipes I look at and say...How can that be good? What an uncommon collection of ingredients. But I gave it a shot and it is fabulous. A perfect balance of fat, acid and salt, then the burning of the broccoli adds a different dimension. We have had it three times now. The last time I paired it with pan roasted chicken thighs with shallots, garlic and grape tomatoes.
thenenebean February 25, 2024
Delicious. 10/10. Great, complex dinner but cold leftovers made for hearty lunch.
bidoun January 9, 2023
So good!
Banana May 14, 2022
Made this for lunch today and it was soooo delicious. I added fried mushrooms and only had kalamata olives. Topped it with crumbled goat cheese. The BOMB!
Deborah J. January 25, 2022
I prepared it exactly as written and it is delicious! So simple and comes together in just over a half hour.
Jessica January 17, 2022
This was fantastic -- I used shallot because I was out of red onion, pearled barley because there was no farro at the store, and Kalamata olives because it's what we had and it was STILL fantastic (although castelvetrano olives are a million times better). I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it came together, and the tahini dressing was really good. I thought it might clash with the olives, but not at all. Easy, healthy, and I'll definitely make it again.
Lauren B. January 4, 2022
SO good! Added to some lacinato kale and officially have a new favorite lunchtime recipe that’s anything but boring.
StRae January 4, 2022
Love, LOVE this.
a4girl December 21, 2021
This was easy and delicious. I skipped the 3Tbsp of oil in the “dressing” for the farro, but it was so flavorful, that it wasn’t really missed.
[email protected] December 12, 2021
This is soooo yummy! First time making/eating farro, love the texture and how it soaks up the tahini dressing. Burnt broccoli/olives, genius!! It was pretty simple to make and clean up afterwards. Loving it cold for breakfast the next day.
Alexis G. December 9, 2021
Could I sub the olives with something else, or does that just defeat the point of the whole dish? I love the sound of the rest of it, just can’t eat olives.
miniaturemezzo December 1, 2021
This is super easy and tasty! I used broccolini (personal preference) and it definitely works. I've also learned from past experience (read: smoky kitchen and coughing!) that it's better to add pepper flakes AFTER browning, so I made that change and just stirred it into the charred broccolini. Be aware that this is a pretty briny dish -- olives + feta + pickled onions -- so if that's not your thing, maybe some substitutions are in order (fresh mozz balls for the feta? some almonds for the olives?). I personally love those flavors so this will definitely be in the regular rotation! Great as a make-ahead lunch which I found equally enjoyable at any temperature.
HangryJo November 20, 2021
Just made this for dinner and we loved it. A bit salty but I wouldn't want to cut down on the feta or the olives so I might up the farro in the proportion next time, not sure, except that there will definitely be a next time. I used vegan feta but otherwise made the recipe as-is.
Pikushabeer November 17, 2021
This is something great , will definitely share my experience at
maryw November 13, 2021
Could you use something other than feta? That always tastes like wet chalk to me.
yasminfahr November 15, 2021
Fresh mozzarella torn into bite-sized pieces would also work here! Maybe goat cheese, too. Let us know what you think!