Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and research shows that most Americans do not get eat anywhere close to the recommended amount. In this guest post, Catherine Zymaris, a Dietetic Intern at Rutgers School of Health Related Professions, provides a wonderful recipe for Harvest Farro Salad that is a whole grain salad that is delicious, nutritious and easy to make. It also stores well in the refrigerator and makes a great addition for weekday lunches.
PLEASE NOTE: Farro is NOT a gluten-free grain. It is a type of wheat and should not be eaten if you have celiac disease, gluten allergy or other gluten sensitivity, etc.
Harvest Farro Salad with Lemon Dressing
By Catherine Zymaris
The past few years has seen a rise in the popularity of ancient grains, like quinoa, amaranth, freekah, and farro. These grains are appearing on restaurant menus, on grocery store shelves, and are featured prominently in blogs, social media, and on television. The ancient grain that I love the most is farro, a delicious, nutty grain that is a great source of fiber (more than any ancient grain), protein, vitamin B3, zinc, magnesium, and iron. A half-cup of cooked farro has double the protein of the same amount of brown rice!
The only pitfall to farro is the type to buy; this grain comes either as unpearled, semi-pearled, or pearled. Unpearled farro has the bran fully intact on the grain, which requires an overnight soak and a long cooking time. Pearled farro (the bran is completely removed) has the shortest cooking time but leaves the grains gummy and unappealing. For the best results in both texture and cooking time, try semi-pearled farro – the bran is partially intact, providing a good amount of fiber but a 20-30-minute cooking time.
Farro can be used in a variety of ways, from a replacement for rice in risotto or pasta for soup, but my favorite way to use semi-pearled farro is as a base of a cold salad that is perfect as a main vegetarian course or as an easy side dish. This Harvest Farro Salad with Lemon Dressing is a nod to the flavors of the season and highlights farro’s hearty chew. I hope you enjoy!
Harvest Farro Salad with Lemon Dressing (makes 6-8 servings)
For the salad:
- 1 cup farro, semi-pearled
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 medium stalks of celery, diced
- ½ cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- 1 scallion, sliced thin
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. To cook the farro – consult the back of the farro package for the manufacturer’s instructions on how to prepare the farro. If there are no instructions, place the farro in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with 4 cups of cold water. Bring farro to a boil over high heat. When the farro reaches a boil, cover the pan with the lid slightly cracked, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the cover and stir in the kosher salt, replace the cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the farro is al dente – tender but still has a bit of chew left in it. Drain the farro and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the walnuts, celery, dried cranberries, and scallion. Gently pour in the farro, mix to combine and set aside.
3. In a bowl, or in a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
4. Pour half of the dressing over the farro salad and toss to combine. Assess the dryness of the salad and add more dressing if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days – it gets better as it sits in the refrigerator! Enjoy!
Approximate Nutrition Information (per serving): 300 calories; 15 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 410 mg sodium; 36 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams protein.
Catherine Zymaris, MS, is a dietetic intern at Rutgers University School of Health Related Professions. Find her food blog at: confessionsofagradschoolfoodie.com.