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Brussels Sprouts with Farro, Apples, and Ham

A party on the plate.

6 to 8 side dish portions


About 45 minutes, not including the time required to soak and cook the farro


We’d be the first to admit that we don’t often wander into the kitchen, cook up a big pot of slow-roasted farro, and dive in with both hands. Farro is a social animal that enjoys bringing its winsome charms to other ingredients—like the Brussels sprouts and apples in this dish. Now, it is a fact that Brussels sprouts have found their way to the top of the vegesphere only in the past decade, largely because chefs have learned how to cook them (high heat, hot fat), what to cook them with (smoked pork), and how long to cook them (longer than you’d think). More care has been taken in the production of Brussels sprouts, too, so they’re not always bloomed, overblown, and over the hill. But even small Brussels sprouts remain coiled as tightly as the inside of golf balls if they don’t see enough heat. This lovely recipe developed by our colleague, Dawn, has all the elements needed to make Brussels sprouts come to life: apples sautéed with shallots; one part sweet, one part tart; bits of warm, smoky country ham; and the palate thrill of slow-roasted farro—bouncy, nutty, absorbing and throwing flavors. It’s a side dish spectacular all around.

Cooking Remarks

Country hams are big guys. If you don’t want a whole one, we recommend the Berkshire Hickory Smoked Ham from Zingerman’s. The ham is produced from heritage breed pigs and comes presliced in 4-ounce packages. It is superb!

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a rimmed baking sheet; a large skillet; a wooden spoon; a plate for holding the sautéed apples; a sharp paring knife; a large mixing bowl; a wire rack; a blender; and a large, shallow serving bowl.

    • 4
      tablespoons grapeseed oil
    • 2
      sweet-tart, crisp apples, such as Jonathan or Honeycrisp (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored, and cut into ⅜-inch dice
    • ¼
      cup minced shallot (about 1 large shallot)
    • pounds medium-sized Brussels sprouts
    • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼
      cup walnut or almond oil (raw, not toasted)
    • 2
      tablespoons cider vinegar
    • 1
      teaspoon honey
    • 1
      teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1
      teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 3
      ounces country ham, chopped fine
    • 1
    • 2
      ounces fresh goat cheese

    Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. 


    In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have lost their opacity and are crisp-tender (they should not be soft and falling apart), about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, turn off the burner, and stir constantly, allowing the shallots to cook with the pan’s residual heat, until they are fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside. Wipe out the skillet but don’t wash it. 


    Trim about ¼ inch off of the base of each sprout and discard any outer leaves that are bruised or discolored. Peel away any leaves that are loose and drop the leaves into a large mixing bowl. Trim off a bit more of the base and discard; cut the sprout lengthwise (from top to bottom) into ⅛-inch slices and add to the bowl. Drizzle the sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine. Empty the sprouts onto the hot baking sheet and shake the baking sheet to distribute them into an even layer. Roast the sprouts for 5 minutes, stir and redistribute into an even layer, and continue to roast until tender with some deeply charred spots, about 5 minutes longer. Set the baking sheet with the sprouts on a wire rack.


    Put ⅓ cup of the cooled apple mixture into a blender jar and add the almond oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, thyme, ⅝ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Purée until a thick, smooth dressing forms. Set the dressing aside. 


    Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the ham and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the apples and toss to combine. Scrape the Brussels sprouts into the skillet and stir until the ingredients are well integrated. Turn off the heat, add 3 tablespoons of dressing, and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add additional dressing if you like, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. 


    Put the sprouts into a large, shallow serving bowl and crumble the cheese over the top. Sprinkle with additional pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.