Cheesy Farro Bake with Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Shallots
Nutty farro and sautéed veggies are cooked, tossed in a creamy vegan cheese sauce, topped with an eye-popping array of tomatoes, and baked to perfection. The "cheese" sauce is lower in fat than more traditional vegan cheese sauces because the primary ingredient in it is eggplant rather than cashews. I wish I could take credit for the brilliance of using eggplant as the base in this sauce, but the credit is 100% owed to the lovely Minimalist Baker blog. I altered their recipe quite a bit to fit the flavors in this farro bake, but followed the same technique of broiling and blending the eggplant with other flavors to create a super-creamy cheese sauce.
For the Cheese Sauce
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds (about 15 rounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use ½ teaspoon)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
For the Farro
- 2 cups farro, thoroughly rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
- dried basil
- sea salt
- black pepper
To Make the Cheese Sauce
Add the eggplant rounds to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, and let them "sweat" for 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse off the salt and pat the rounds dry.
Preheat your broiler on high.
Spread the eggplant rounds across a baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes (watching carefully), flip over and broil another 3-4 minutes (again, watching carefully).
Add the cooked eggplant to a blender along with the water, nutritional yeast, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and arrowroot powder. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is smooth.
Transfer the cheese mixture to a medium sauce pan and whisk continuously over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
To Make the Farro
Preheat oven to 375F.
Make the farro while the eggplant is "sweating" by adding the farro and water to a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain off the excess water and set aside.
While the farro is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large oven-safe pan (e.g., cast iron skillet). Add in the sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and shallots. Cook for 13-15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Once the veggies are tender, add in the cooked farro, cheese sauce, and fresh basil. Stir the mixture and smooth out in the pan.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes carefully over the farro mixture and sprinkle with dried basil, sea salt, and black pepper.
Bake the mixture for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes have roasted and turned slightly golden.
Remove from oven, scoop into bowls, and enjoy.