Lately it seems like everyone’s talking about farro. Maybe it’s just the current enthusiasm for all things whole grain, but more likely, it’s because people are finally starting to appreciate the delicious nutty flavour and chewy texture of this kissing cousin to the wheatberry.
It’s great prepared risotto-style or added to soups and stews in lieu of barley, but my favourite preparation of all is tossed together with fresh vegetables and a tangy vinaigrette for a hearty gain-based salad.
This version, in particular, makes the most of that chewy texture by pairing it off with the crunchy textures and fresh flavours of the Mediterranean.
It all started with a bumper crop of cucumbers from our little backyard vegetable patch, which was serendipitously accompanied by the discovery of a neglected tub of feta cheese during a very belated fridge clean-out. All I needed to round things out was the rest of the usual suspects in the Mediterranean salad repertoire - tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers, fresh mint and oregano - plus a pot of freshly-cooked farro and a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
A quick toss in a big mixing bowl, and I had myself a perfect summer-worthy side dish full of bright flavours as sunny as an afternoon in the Greek Islands.
The farro base means this salad is filling enough to serve as a light meal on its own, or you can pair it up with a protein of your choice to make a more substantial sort of meal. (I’m partial to grilled chicken or pork, personally.)
Best of all, it’s actually better after a day or two in the fridge, which means you can whip up a big bowl on the weekend and then divvy it up into single portions to tote to work during the week. Add a small tin of tuna or whatever leftover proteins might be kicking around in your fridge, and you’ll have everyone else in the lunchroom wishing you’d brought enough to share!
Quick tip: Farro can still be a little hard to track down, despite its currently popularity. Try checking out health food stores or Italian markets… otherwise, wheatberries or barley are a great substitute.
Mediterranean Farro Salad
2 cups uncooked semi-pearled farro
1 cup diced cucumer
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced sweet red pepper
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the farro as per package directions. Drain and let cool slightly.
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the farro with the remaining ingredients. Let stand for about 15-20 minutes to let the flavours mingle before serving.