It’s been a long winter and a rather dismal spring. Coronavirus aside (okay, is there REALLY anything “aside” about COVID-19?), the weather here has been chilly, damp and most of all – gloomy. I definitely need something to perk me up that has bright colors, loads of flavor and is easy to make. My shopping has changed thanks to COVID-19 and I am at the end of my two weeks since my last delivery. That means that fresh vegetables are sparse. But the idea of a dinner without some great veg dish is unthinkable. Farro Salad makes the perfect side for any grilled or roasted meat, poultry or fish. And since farro is a grain, one dish serves a dual purpose.
This Farro Salad is perfect as I made it, but don’t get too bogged down in specifics. If you don’t have red onion, use shallot, yellow onion or scallion. If you don’t have parsley, use cilantro, basil or even chopped spinach. Need to turn this into more of a main dish? Add some crumbled feta or queso fresco and chickpeas. And if you don’t have farro – well, I can’t help you there. Actually, that’s not true. Use another hearty grain like freekeh, barley or wheat berries. If you have none of those, try this with orzo. The important thing is to cook whatever grain/pasta that you are using according to the directions given on the package until al dente (With some “bite.”)
Farro comes in three forms: pearled, semi-pearled and whole. They each cook for different amounts of time and it is suggested that you soak the whole farro overnight. Any one of the types will work here. And if you are looking to stock your pantry with something other than beans and pasta, you can’t go wrong with farro, which is also delicious hot.
So even if you are living in a sunnier clime, we can all use every bit of the brightness, color and flavor we can get. Try this soon.
Yield: 6 servings
1 cup of uncooked farro, cooked according to directions
2 Persian or mini-cucumbers, diced (If you don’t have these cucumbers, English cucumbers are a good replacement.) (Radishes would also work.)
About 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved and coarsely chopped
10-12 Kalamata or other flavorful black olive, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/2 of a small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher or sea salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
Cracked black pepper, to taste (Or Aleppo pepper if you have it)
A generous 1/4 teaspoon of ground Sumac (optional)
About 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) good EVOO
Rounded teaspoon preserved lemon paste (Optional but delicious and great to have around!)
Cook the farro according to directions, but add the preserved lemon paste to the water if using. I added my salt to the cooking farro, but you can add it after the salad is pulled together. Drain and cool the farro.
Add the farro to all of the other ingredients and serve in a pretty bowl at room temperature. Left-overs can be covered well and left in a cool place overnight. You can refrigerate left-over salad but fresh tomatoes are never as good once they have been refrigerated.