Going through our pantry, I found the bag of farro sent to us from Juls from Juls' Kitchen (through the Foodie Exchange). Farro is a deliciously nutty Italian grain that looks like a fatter brown rice or spelt. It's an ancient grain that originated all others including rice, barley, and wheat. Though it's also used in soups or cooked with bacon, we opted to make an easy and healthy farro salad instead.
Farro is high in fiber, protein, and B-vitamins. It almost became extinct because this grain was so difficult to produce. But when it became popular amongst haute cuisine restaurants in Italy, farro thankfully made a comeback. This dish is a great summer salad - just remember to soak the farro the night before you want to serve it.
Farro Salad (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe, serves 6)
4 cups water
2 cups farro (We used more than the original recipe)
2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (not in the original recipe. We had Baby Bella or crimini mushrooms on hand so we added them to the salad. It added a nice earthiness to the dish)
(The original recipe also called for 1/2 sweet onion chopped but we didn't have any on hand)
1. (additional step to the original recipe) Clean the farro and soak the grain overnight.
2. Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
3. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.
We immediately ate the salad for dinner, but it can also be refrigerated overnight (just bring it to room temperature before serving - perfect for a dinner party!). It's a wonderfully hearty dish that we'll definitely make again.