Apparently, there’s yet another new-to-me ancient wheat grain called farro. It’s kind of similar to brown rice, but heartier with a nutty taste. As a gal who gets around (well, at least, is nearby) I figured I’d give it a try. After all, I’ve jumped on board the couscous, quinoa, barley, sorghum, and Israeli couscous bandwagons. May as well sample this.
Thank goodness for my adventurous spirit. Farro is FABULOUS! I randomly picked a brand of organic farro which, fortunately, was the right kind: Italian pearled farro. Other kinds need to be soaked overnight. Also, make sure the farro you purchase in NOT instant. Look at the ingredients – it should only contain farro. (organic or not – it’s up to you)Don’t follow the package directions for cooking. A better way is to cook it in a large pot of water, then drain it (like pasta). This alleviates the possibility (and, for me, the almost certainty) of burning when the water runs out.
FARRO-ASPARAGUS SALAD – makes 7 cups
- 1½ T salt, divided
- 1½ cups Italian pearled farro, raw
- 6 oz asparagus (about 8 stalks), cut into 3/4″ pieces
- 6 oz sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- 2 T shallots, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp dried dill, (or 3 T fresh)
- 3 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
Rinse farro. Boil 2 quarts of water. (It doesn’t have to be precise, but should be close due to the salt – if you have too little water, the farro will be too salty.) Add in 1 T of the salt and the farro. Uncovered, bring to back to a boil, then reduce flame to keep a low boil for 15-20 minutes (17 minutes works for me) – until the farro is cooked, but still has a bit of chew. Stir now and then – especially at the beginning.While the farro is cooking, in another pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add in 1 tsp of the salt, the snap peas, and the asparagus. Boil for 2 minutes. Tip: SET TIMER SO YOU DON’T OVERCOOK!!! – You want the veggies to have a crunch. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
Note: If you don’t want to dirty the second pot, wait until the farro is done, and cook the asparagus and snap peas in that pot.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, Dijon, black pepper, and dill. Set aside.Once the farro is done, drain in a sieve and then pour onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Spread out evenly in order to cool and dry the farro. This should take 15-20 minutes.To assemble the salad, place the tomatoes, asparagus, snap peas, and Feta in a large bowl. Add the farro on top (this way the dressing will be absorbed into the farro). Whisk the vinaigrette briefly and drizzle on. Stir the ingredients to blend. Let set about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mix.
FARRO-ASPARAGUS SALAD is best served the first day. It’s still tasty after that, but a bit drier since the dressing has been absorbed.