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Fresh sardines are only sporadically available, so we’ve recommended using canned sardines here. By all means broil fresh sardines if your fishmonger has them. If you go with canned, spend a little money on them: Imported Portuguese and Spanish sardines such as Cole’s and Matiz taste much better than the grocery store staples. You could also use good-quality tuna—again, imported canned tuna, or line-caught albacore from the Western U.S., will taste best. A time-saving tip: Soaking the farro overnight (or at least during the day while you are at work) will give you a running start with this dish.
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2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped, plus 2 Tbsp. fennel fronds
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or hot paprika
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 cans sardines, drained, bones removed, or 2 4-oz. cans good-quality tuna
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup semi-pearled farro, soaked overnight, drained
1 1/2 cups chopped canned whole tomatoes with juices
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Ingredient Info: Aleppo pepper, a slightly sweet Syrian pepper with a moderate heat level, is available at some specialty foods stores and wholespice.com. Semi-pearled farro is sold at Italian markets and natural foods and specialty foods stores.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel, onion, garlic, fennel seed, and Aleppo pepper; season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender and translucent, 8–10 minutes; remove from heat. Place the sardines in a single layer on a plate (if using tuna, break it up into small chunks and set out on plate) and spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooked fennel mixture atop the fish. Drizzle with lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Set aside.
Return skillet to medium-high heat and stir in soaked farro. Cook, stirring often, 1 minute, then add 2 cups boiling water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until farro is al dente, 35–40 minutes. Stir in chopped tomatoes and their juices and increase heat to high. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, 5–7 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Reserve ¾ cup tomato farroto for Farroto with Fried Egg.
Serve tomato farroto topped with sardines, vegetables, fennel fronds, and parsley.
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