Whole grain salads are the staple of our spring and summer table, where you’ll regularly find compositions featuring quinoa, millet, barley, and bulgar along with a plethora of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Our newest love just happens to be farro, a hearty and deeply satisfying grain that we adore because it pairs so nicely with such a variety of fresh local ingredients year-round.

Ever popular in Europe, and gaining a reputation in the states, farro comes in whole and pearled varieties. Using pearled farro cuts down on cooking time and gives farro the opportunity to be the star of even the most hurried weeknight meals. We’ve found that toasting the farro in butter prior to cooking intensifies the grain’s naturally rich, nutty flavor.

In this dish, we’ve combined asparagus, green onions and fresh oregano to give the dish a distinctly spring-like flair. Sundried tomatoes give a nod to the impending summer harvest. Chickpeas offer protein. And feta cheese pulls everything together, giving the dish a Mediterranean flair and offering a counterpoint to the tangy lemon dressing.

Farro Salad with Asparagus
By Lori & Paul
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cups pearled farro
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
2/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 25-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese (or more, to taste)

for the vinaigrette:
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Heat the butter over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, foamed, and subsided, add the farro and toast, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender and cooked through, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

Drain the farro well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool. Farro can be made 2 days ahead; cool and refrigerate covered until ready to use.

Steam asparagus for about 10 minutes or just until crisp tender. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside until cool. Cut into 1 ½ inch lengths.

Toss cooled farro gently with the cooled asparagus, sundried tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, oregano and Feta Cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.

Salad can be made one day ahead. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. For best results, reserve up to 1/3 cup of lemon vinaigrette and store separately from salad. Toss salad with reserved vinaigrette before serving.

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