Farro: a fun word for a mysterious grain, about which a lot of controversy exists as to its origin. Some say it’s a type of wheat, but that’s not the case, farro is a grain from a related, but different plant. It was a staple at the height of the Roman Empire, and persevered since those days until now in central parts of Italy, where it’s still grown, consumed and exported. Farro is loaded with vitamins and low in gluten, so even people with gluten allergies may enjoy it. Plus, it performs well in many kinds of recipes, from risottos to breads, from stews to salads. What an amazing little grain, that’s perfect as the focus of my 200th post!
BEWITCHING FARRO SALAD
(from my kitchen)
to cook the grain:
1 cup farro (not the pearled variety)
2.5 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
for the dressing (it will make more than you need):
1/2 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon (or other citric fruits, alone or in combination)
pinch of salt
ground black pepper
for the salad:
asparagus, finely sliced in tiny “coins”
radishes, cut in match sticks
minced cilantro (optional)
Cook the farro by mixing it with water and salt in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil and gently simmering it for 45 minutes (or a little longer, taste to decide when it’s fully cooked, but don’t let it get mushy). If the grain cooks but there’s some water left, drain it. Otherwise just fluff it with a fork and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Make the salad dressing by mixing the olive oil with lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Reserve. Add the asparagus and radishes to a small bowl and sprinkle with some of the salad dressing, mixing to lightly coat them.
At serving time, mix the cooked farro with the diced tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro (if using), asparagus and radishes, add more dressing to taste, adjust the seasoning.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: A couple of years ago I watched Anne Burrell use raw asparagus as the main ingredient in an unusual salad. She inspired me in this farro recipe. Since the asparagus spears are raw, thinly slice both them and the radishes. If you add some dressing to these two ingredients and allow them to rest while you prepare the remainder of the salad, it will mellow their sharpness.
I haven’t given any exact amounts for the ingredients so that you can play with them, using more or less, depending on your own taste. Skip some, add something else (onions, diced olives, capers, mint leaves), and adapt the dressing too: orange juice complements asparagus and farro quite nicely!
The grain doesn’t go mushy in the fridge overnight, and in fact the salad was still outstanding next day. I can see raw asparagus in our future quite often: couscous, orzo, and cracked wheat salads will never be the same…
My husband, after polishing off leftovers, said: “You are making this again, right”? – I guess food bloggers’ partners live in fear of never tasting the same dish twice…
ONE YEAR AGO: From Sea to Table: SUSHI