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Long gone are the days when salads consisted solely of cucumbers, limp romaine, and a sad tomato wedge. These days salads tend to pack a nutritional punch, often with enough protein and whole grains for a post-yoga meal. And rising in popularity as a salad grain is farro, which has been a staple of Italian dining for hundreds of years.
But farro can be a bit confusing. It’s not exactly wheat, but an all-in-one plant and grain, which comes in multiple forms. Whole farro—which contains plenty of fiber, magnesium, Vitamin B3, and zinc—but will need to be soaked overnight. If you’re in the mood for something quick and easy (and I often am), many grocery stores sell the semiperlato version. Some of the bran is removed, but it doesn’t require any soaking.
Farro is belly-filling without feeling like it weighs down the rest of the body, and it makes for an excellent addition to the diets of those looking for protein without consuming meat. But wait! There’s more. There are actually three species of farro: Farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande, or einkorn, emmer, and spelt. The most common of the three is farro medio, or emmer, which is likely what you’ll find at the grocery store. This version looks a little like brown rice, but lighter in color, and with an earthier chew.
One bite and it’s easy to see why this grain is making a comeback: With hints of cashew and chestnuts, it pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes. One of the most famous ways to enjoy farro is in a Tuscan soup; the combination of the nutty farro with the fresh veggies creates a meal perfect for crisp fall evenings across a wooden table (candles optional). Farro is also great in salads, risottos, and breakfast parfaits.
Some of our favorite recipes include:
- Tuscan Farro and Bean Soup
- Berries and Farro Parfait
- Crunchy Almond Thai Tofu Farro Lettuce Wraps
- Farro Studded Foccaccia
- Creamy Farro Pilaf with Mushrooms
As we move into the harvest season of early fall, I find myself wanting to throw farro into a pile of fruits and veggies. This recipe calls for peaches, arugula, goat cheese, farro, and a fistful of other goodies that create an earthy and delightful salad. I suggest this with a glass of lemonade or white wine, good friends, and a prayer of gratitude for this crazy good grain.
Farro Salad with Peaches, Arugula, and Mint
For the dressing
- 2 tbsps of olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp of honey
- Salt and pepper
For the salad
- ½ c. uncooked farro (or 1 cup cooked)
- 3 c. arugula
- ½ c. chopped mint
- ½ c. sliced almonds
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ c. sliced peaches
- 4 oz. organic goat cheese
Cook the farro according to the package directions. Trader Joe’s has a 10 minute farro, or you can use the semiperlato variety. If you’re using the whole grain variety, remember to soak it, otherwise you will have a mess on your hands. Once the farro is finished cooking (I like it like pasta, or al dente, but it’s really up to you), drain and rinse under cold water.
Whisk the olive oil, lemon and lime juice, balsamic, and honey together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the farro to a large bowl, then add the dressing. Stir to coat. Add the arugula, mint, almonds, red onion, and peaches. Serve with crumbled goat cheese to garnish.
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Photo by Amanda Kohr
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