Summer has finally arrived here in Umbria, and now I try to avoid spending long hours in a hot kitchen preparing meals. I love to make grain and legumes salads during the summer as I can cook the grains and beans at night when it is cooler, then just assemble the salad the next day. I also never cook enough for just one salad, but always cook the entire package and freeze the extra for future use. I have found that both cooked grains and beans freeze well and I can throw them into warm weather soups or salads whenever I want to add a little extra protein.
Farro is a favorite grain here in Umbria, and we use it in salads, soups, as a side (think rice), or ground into flour. Farro has a slightly nutty flavor that is delicious, and yet is a good base for any variety of veggies in a salad. This particular salad has a Greek influence, as it contains the usual Greek salad ingredients of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and Feta cheese. I added some peppery arugula, and crunchy chopped celery along with some cooked, cooled farro to create a hearty salad that can be enjoyed as a light main entree on hot summer days, or as a salad side dish with grilled meats. To boost the protein in this salad, some rinsed and drained chickpeas can be added, and to bring out the Greek influence even more, you can also throw in some chopped, flavorful pitted black olives. This salad hits all the right buttons for me when it comes to salads as it has color, crunch, and a LOT of flavor.
Farro should be cooked just until it is tender to the bite, but it should still be relatively firm. Nothing is worse than overcooked, mushy farro in a salad! To cook your farro, simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and then drop in your farro and cook until tender, or “al dente”. I often used pearled farro in my salads, which cooks quicker than regular farro, taking just about 15 minutes to cook. Just check your package directions as cooking time will depend on the variety of farro you choose.
This salad can be prepared ahead of time excluding the arugula and dressing. Just before you want to sever it, toss the ingredients first with the dressing, then gently toss with the arugula. I make a big batch of this salad, and my husband will eat the leftovers for lunch for a couple of days as he loves grain-based salads. Although the arugula will wilt a little, this salad stores well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Deborah Mele 2016
- 2 Cups Cooked & Cooled Farro (See Notes Above)
- 1 1/2 Cups Halved Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Large Cucumber, Chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 1 Small Red Onion, Peeled & Chopped
- 1/2 Cup Parsley Leaves
- 4 Cups Baby Arugula
- 1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- In a large bowl, toss together the farro, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, onion, and parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Pour the dressing over the farro mixture and toss to coat.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings, oil, and vinegar as needed.
- Add the arugula, and gently toss.
- Crumble the Feta cheese on top.
- Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 273 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 11mg Sodium: 187mg Carbohydrates: 28g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 5g Protein: 8g