Grain salads are always a good solution to cooking on hot summer days. Cook up your grain in the early morning and then the kitchen will be cool. I love experimenting with different rice varieties, wheat berries, and cracked wheat to use as the base for cooling summer salads. I particularly like the toothsome, nutty quality of farro. Farro is an ancient strain of wheat that looks like plump barley kernels.
You can find faro in health food stores, gourmet food stores and now in many supermarkets. Don’t get confused with spelt. Spelt sometimes is called farro but tastes different and takes much longer to cook. Make sure to select whole grain farro; pearlized farro has the hull removed and cooks in half the time.. Some are quick cooking while this untreated whole wheat farro takes longer to cook. It’s best to check the package for what specific farro you buy. For this recipe I used Bob’s Red Hill organic Farro.
Higher in protein than pasta or rice, farro can be used in stews, soups, salads or as a substitute in rice dishes like risotto. Farro, pronounced Farr-oh, has recently has become a grain that Americans love to eat. An added plus is that farro is recommended for diabetics. You can have fun with different variations on this salad. Sometimes I’ll add sliced peaches and sliced burrata or mozzarella cheese and finish it with a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Feel free to mix up the vegetables called for the tasty tips below.
This is a variation on tabouli, the Middle Eastern cracked wheat salad traditionally made with olive oil, lemon, mint, tomato, and loads of parsley. While some recipes insist on soaking the farro before cooking I have found that the method below works beautifully and will have a distinctive al dente crunchiness. In this recipe mint and tomatoes are replaced with chopped cucumber, radishes, and fresh goat or feta cheese. Serve this with a chilled soup on a hot summer night for a light and satisfying dinner.
- Add a cup of cooked vegetables like chopped green beans, squash, corn, asparagus tips, broccoli or cauliflower florets.
- For a more substantial salad add a cup of cooked shredded chicken or cold diced shrimp.
- Feel free to double this recipe.
- Cooked corn is an excellent addition.
Farro Vegetable Salad
1 cup whole wheat farro (I used Bob’s Red Hill organic Farro)
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely diced European cucumber
3/4 cup finely diced radishes
3/4 cup peeled and finely diced carrots
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
1/2 cup favorite vinaigrette
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound goat or feta cheese, crumbled
- Rinse and drain in a fine-mesh colander set in a sink. Transfer the farro into a large saucepan, cover with water, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered until tender, about 30 minutes. The farro should have a little bite to it. Drain again in the colander, and place in a serving bowl. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the red onion, cucumber, radishes, and carrots. Mix with a two-pronged fork, adding the parsley, chives, and mint.
- To make the dressing, combine the vinaigrette, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until incorporated. Taste for seasoning.
- Pour the dressing over the farro and mix with a fork to fluff the farro. Carefully add the goat or feta cheese. Taste for seasoning and garnish with parsley leaves. Chill for at least 3 hours. Serve chilled and garnish just before serving.
Can be prepared 4 hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated until serving.