Farro is a hearty whole grain that may well become a staple in your kitchen, appearing in everything from soups to casseroles to warm sides to room temperature salads. It’s been around for a long time, once a mainstay of the ancient Roman diet.
Farro has a substantial chewy texture, and it’s high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein, which also makes it a great anchor for a lot of vegetarian dishes. Try using it in recipes that you might ordinarily reach for barley or brown rice. And think about making a batch of this at the beginning of the week, and keeping it in a container in the fridge to dig into all week long. Use them cold, or room temp, or heat up and toss with things like roughly chopped roasted vegetables. (This idea works for whatever grain or grains you are pulling towards on any given moment).
I love using lots of fresh herbs and other leafy greens in whole grain salads, which balance out the heft of the grains and also provide a lovely pop of color and freshness. And I make these kinds of salads continuously during the warmer months, since they keep well, travel well, and having a whole grain salad in the fridge means you never have to wonder what to make for lunch on those days when you’re feeling unimaginative. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper – the seasonings really lift the flavor.
Finally, raw asparagus may seem surprising, but if the asparagus is very fresh it adds a wonderful delicate asparagus flavor, and a nice crunch. If the outer peel is thick, which more often is the case with thicker asparagus, then definitely peel the bottom half of the stalks before thinly slicing them, or the texture will be too tough.
Farro and Vegetable Salad
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups farro
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar see Note
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups roughly chopped watercress
- 2 cups thinly sliced raw asparagus peeled if necessary
- 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
- Combine the broth, farro, and salt in a saucepan over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the farro, if there is excess both remaining, rinse with cool water, and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, shallots, lemon juice, and parsley in a small bowl and season salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes, watercress, asparagus and radishes to the farro. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to combine.
Note:I have an apple balsamic vinegar that I got as a gift that is very thick and syrupy and has a lovely sweetness. I used it in this recipe and it was perfect.
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