It’s not even Hallowe'en but I’m thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and experimenting with some side dishes. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and for years we used to celebrate at my brother’s house but he moved to Buenos Aires and that’s too far to travel for dinner (I live in Connecticut).

So now Thanksgiving is at my place. And of course we have a big turkey and stuffing. 

But mostly I heavy up on the side dishes because there are several vegetarians who come. I want dinner to be delicious – and filling – for them too. Whole grain casseroles usually do the trick. Like this one, which is based on farro. 

I make farro a lot because I like the chewiness. Years ago recipes would say to cook it for ages, until it was soft, but I don’t do that. Just like I don’t cook vegetables until they’re soft.

Farro also has a rich, earthy, nutty flavor. And it is incredibly useful. I can make it into a casserole or a salad and even add it to soup. 

People are not as familiar with farro as some of the other grains, but you should give it a try if you haven’t already. You can probably find it in the supermarkets near the rice and quinoa. Health food stores have it.

If you can’t find it or you have some other grain in your house, you can make this dish anyway. Use spelt or oat groats or brown rice.

This dish is good topped with cheese plain. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make it. 

Farro with Kale, Currants and Pignoli Nuts

6-8 ounces kale

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup farro

3 tablespoons currants (or raisins)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-¾ cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons toastd pignoli nuts

grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Wash the kale leaf by leaf to get rid of any dirt or sand. Remove and discard the thick stems. Chop the leaves and thin stems coarsely and set them aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and kale and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the farro, currants, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the ingredients. Pour in the stock. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for one minute. Cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for about 25 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle with the pignoli nuts, stir and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Makes 6 servings