Grain salads and grain bowls are so very trending now.
Which is a wonderful development, given that we should all try to eat more grains because they are rich in nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot to get you full for quite awhile.
I love farro, an ancient wheat grain that cooks up delightfully chewy with a subtle toasted nutty flavor. It’s high in fiber, Vitamin B3 and zinc, too.
Normally, I cook it like risotto. But summer’s warm weather had me eyeing this recipe for “Farro Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, and Pistachios.”
As the title implies, the 70 recipes are meat-free and designed to feed just two. If you’re famished, each recipe also includes advice on how to make the dish more substantial, such as by adding extra tofu or beans, or making a side of garlic bread to go with it. Enjoy everything from “Fried Eggplant Stacks” and “Fried Quinoa with Kale and Kimchi” to “Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Edamame” and “Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin.”
Farro comes a couple of ways: whole grain (which needs to be soaked overnight before cooking) and semipearled (in which some of the bran has been removed for quicker cooking). It’s not always clear on the packaging which is which. But just read the cooking directions on the back of the package to know whether you need to soak it overnight or not.
This salad is a breeze to make. While the farro cooks on the stovetop, just zest and sement an orange, then chop up a few veggies, some nutty-tasting Spanish cheese, and some parsley. Toss everything together with a simple dressing made up of olive oil, rice vinegar and the juice from that orange.
What I love about this salad is its range of textures. There’s the crunch of pistachios with the crisp bits of fennel and radicchio — all intermixed with the chewy-soft farro grains. Because everything is shredded, the salad takes on the air of a much more interesting version of a slaw. It might be rather lean were it not for the cheese, which gives a restrained punch of fatty goodness every time you hit a sliver.
This colorful salad is satisfying enough as the main attraction for lunch or dinner. But like many recipes in the book, you could also serve it as a first-course or side dish. That’s an especially appealing way to enjoy more of the recipes in this book if you’re not necessarily a die-hard vegetarian. In fact, this farro salad could easily be doubled and served as a side dish for a backyard gathering or Labor Day cook-out.
How tasty is this salad? The next day, my husband asked if there was any leftover farro salad. Yes, my Meat Boy, actually wanting seconds of a vegetarian grain salad. Imagine that.
Farro Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, and Pistachios
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup farro, rinsed
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 navel orange, zested, sectioned, and juice squeezed from center membranes and reserved (see Note)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 small head fennel, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 small head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
2 ounces Manchego cheese, cut into small matchsticks
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the farro. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and run cold water over the farro to cool slightly and stop the cooking. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the garlic, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Let sit until garlic flavors the vinegar, about 5 minutes, then discard the garlic. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice, then whisk in the olive oil.
Add the pistachios, fennel, radicchio, orange sections, Manchego, parsley, and cooled farro (it’s okay if it’s still a little warm) and toss to coat well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if it needs it.
Scoop the salad into shallow bowls and serve at room temperature.
Extra hungry: Toss in 1 cup of chickpeas for a punch of protein.
In the glass: Something white and light like a Pinot Blanc from Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Note: I ask you to zest and section an orange in this recipe so this is how to do it. First, zest the orange with a Microplane and set the zest aside. Next, cut the peel from the two ends of the orange to reveal the flesh underneath. Set the orange on a cutting board, cut-side down, and cut away any white pith that remains. Now cut the orange sections between the membranes, dropping the sections and juices into a bowl as you work your way around the fruit. You will be left with a bowl of glistening orange crescents and a handful of orangey membrane. Squeeze the membrane of any remaining juice and reserve that for the dressing. Discard the membrane and proceed with the recipe.
From “One Pan, Two Plate: Vegetarian Suppers” by Carla Snyder
Another Carla Snyder Recipe to Try: Grapefruit Custard Pie
More Grain Goodness: Braised Chicken with Farro, Kale, and Winter Squash