We eat a variety of healthy grains in our home, but one of our favorites is an ancient grain I discovered while we were living in Umbria called farro. I use farro in my soups, in place of rice in risotto, as well as in a variety of salads such as this one made with roasted beets, goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Farro has a nutty flavor and if cooked properly should still be slightly firm to the bite. Grains such as farro, barley, or quinoa are great used as the base for salads and work well in combination with almost any other ingredients.
Farro should be cooked just until it is tender to the bite, but it should still be fairly firm. Nothing worse than overcooked mushy farro in a salad! To cook your farro, simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then drop in your farro and cook until tender, or “al dente”. I often used pearled farro which cooks quicker than regular farro, taking just about 15 minutes to cook. If you cannot find farro, you could substitute pearl barley or even quinoa in its place. Farro is now much easier to find in North America than it used to be, and often can even be found in the organic section of your local grocery store.
To roast beets, simply wash and place in a casserole or on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast in a 400 degree F. oven for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. The length of baking time required will depend on the age and size of the beets. Allow the beets to cool, then use a sharp paring knife to peel the beets and cut into 1 inch dice. The beets will color the salad pink, so I add them in last after the other salad ingredients have been tossed with the dressing.
To toast the walnuts, bake on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until the nuts are just beginning to color.
Deborah Mele 2013
Farro Salad With Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts
- 4 Cups Cooked Farro (See Note Above)
- 3 Stalks Celery, Chopped
- 6 Green Onions, Chopped
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves, Coarsely Chopped
- 3 Cups Arugula Leaves
- 1 1/2 Cups Diced Roasted Beets (See Note Above)
- 1/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts, Chopped (See Note Above)
- 1/4 Cup Goat Cheese Crumbles
- 4 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together the farro, celery, onions, and parsley and toss to mix well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and taste, adjusting salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to the farro mixture and toss to mix.
- Add the arugula, and diced beets, and walnuts and toss gently.
- Arrange the salad in a bowl, then sprinkle the top with the goat cheese crumbles.