Our family is visiting us here in Umbria right now which means I have a number of hungry folks to prepare meals for every day. Although the kids do not care for salads, the adults love them, so recently I have been making big bowls of salad such as this one that will feed us for at least two meals. I always like hearty salads that contain different grains and/or beans and during the warm days of summer I often prepare a salad like this one in the morning and my husband and I will enjoy it as our dinner entree. This salad also holds up well and is a great option to pack for a picnic or outdoor entertaining. Although I will give exact ingredient amounts in the recipe below, this type of salad will change every time I make it depending on the season, what is growing in my garden, or even what I may be craving at the time.
I really never measure my ingredients when I make a salad like this one, but it does help to chop all the ingredients about the same size. The addition of fresh herbs really gives this salad a fresh, vibrant flavor but you can choose any combination of fresh herbs you prefer. I prefer a more acidic dressing than my husband does, so I often dress my salads lightly and then offer additional extra virgin olive oil and vinegar or lemons at the table. In addition to the ingredients listed below, you can use whatever summer vegetables or favorite ingredients you prefer. Some suggestions are fresh fennel, blanched beans, chopped stone fruit, olives, and you could even include diced salami and cheese such as provolone.
I often cook a big pot of both beans and faro and then divide them up and freeze them for when I make salads or soups. You can substitute any grain you prefer in place of the faro such as barley, or rice, and just about any bean will work in this salad in place of the chickpeas. If your time is limited, a can of beans that has been well rinsed and drained will work just fine. Whole-grain farro is the healthiest type and contains the most fiber, but it does take longer to cook than semi-pearled or pearled type. Semi-pearled farro cooks in about half the time as whole-grain farro because the bran has been scored, which allows heat to reach the center more quickly. You can use either whole-grain or semi-pearled faro in this salad, just cook it until it is just tender to the bite.
Deborah Mele 2014
Toss the vegetables, grains, and beans in a large bowl.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients then pour over the salad and toss well.
Taste salad, then adjust dressing ingredients as needed.
Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator until needed.