If like me, you can’t get enough of nuoc cham — that zesty, indispensable Vietnamese dipping sauce for spring rolls, rice noodle salads, and so much more — you will go bonkers for this summery tomato and grain salad.
“Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette” takes a dressing with a similar profile as nuoc cham — minus the lime juice — to dress a colorful, bountiful mix of chewy, nutty farro grains with fresh heirloom tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a lavish amount of fresh parsley and tarragon leaves.
The vinaigrette of fish sauce, garlic, white wine vinegar, sugar and a splash of water is briny, savory, fruity-tangy, and full of irresistible umami. In fact, it enhances the natural umami of the tomatoes, bringing out their flavor to the fullest.
The amount of dressing may not look like enough for the large amount of veggies and grains. But this vinaigrette is such a powerhouse of flavor, it more than does the job.
Scallions are charred in a pan before being added to the mix. McFadden cooks them whole, giving them a more eye-catching look. But I chopped mine into 1-inch lengths before cooking instead so that they’d be easier to eat once mixed into the salad. You can do, either. Don’t be afraid to let the green onions get deeply browned in some spots, as that hit of smoky char really adds to the overall dish, much like singed vegetables do similarly to pho broths.
As McFadden notes, this grain salad makes for a great side dish for grilled meats, poultry or fish.
Or just stick a fork into it greedily to enjoy its many charms on its own.
Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
For Farro and Assembly:
1 cup semi-pearled farro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch scallions, trimmed, left whole or cut into 1-inch lengths
8 ounces small tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
8 ounces cherry and/or pear tomatoes, halved
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, rough chopped
1/2 cup tarragon leaves, rough chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
To make the vinaigrette: Whisk garlic, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Do ahead: Vinaigrette can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.
To cook the farro: Cook farro in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
Heat oil in a large skilled over medium-high. cook scallions, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl with farro. Add both types of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and tarragon, and toss to combine. Add vinaigrette and toss again to coat; season with pepper.
Adapted from Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland, as published in Food & Wine
Another Joshua McFadden Recipe to Enjoy: Charred Broccoli with Tonnato, Pecorino, Lemon, and Chiles