November 1st, 2010

Farro, for Spring or Fall


This week I have been testing some recipes for an article for RELISH Magazine. It’s for a story that I’m writing about our Third Thursday Community Pot Luck that will run in May of next year (!)

With the many months that separate article submission and publish dates, it can tricky to test recipes, especially with peak of summer produce in the dreary heart of winter.

But, as luck would have it, this is a springtime story. And many of the vegetables that come to market in early spring also make a brief wondrous appearance in early fall.


Like this gorgeous selection that I bought from Arugula’s Star of Neal Family Farms. Wide, crinkly leaves of Red Russian Kale, plump, oh-so-sweet sugar snap peas, and, without question, the prettiest-tastiest bundle of carrots I have eaten in a long time—if ever!

All of these lush veggies are the precise ingredients needed for one of our featured recipes, as created by Third-Thursday Potlucker Rhonda.

Rhonda is a self-effacing cook, loathe to recognize her talents in the kitchen. But she knows good food, and can craft some mighty tasty dishes.
It’s one of the benefits of being a part of the potluck: I get to sample so many good things, prepared with flavor profiles outside of my typical use.

I liked her dish so much, that I want to share it with you now, while you might have access to some of those early spring/early fall Cool Weather Crops. You won’t have to wait for next May to enjoy!


Rhonda’s Farro Salad with Toasted Sesame-Sweet Garlic Dressing has a couple of those “outside-my-usual” elements: that nutty whole grain known best to the Italians, Farro, and a Far East flavor: toasted sesame oil.

That sesame oil is powerful stuff–a thimbleful imparts a rich roasted color and flavor to a dressing. Rhonda’s vinaigrette uses a tetch more than that, mixed with a neutral canola oil. She also sweats sliced garlic in gentle heat, to sweeten it, while toasting mustard seeds.

This results in a kind of sweet-sour dressing, garlicky, with a hint of the East.


Farro is an ancient whole grain of the wheat family, long cultivated in Italy, and prized for its distinct nutlike flavor and soft but chewy texture. Some think it tastes like a combination of wheat berries and barley. I would agree, and say that both its texture and taste are superior.

If you can find Italian Pearled Farro, as I did at Whole Foods, I recommend it. You won’t have to soak it in advance, and it will cook easily in less than half an hour.

One cup dry will yield 2 cups cooked.


The vegetable preparation is really a simple stir fry. Start with the sturdy kale on medium heat for a few minutes before adding the carrots. If you can find these burgundy colored carrots—deep red skins covering bright orange interior–buy them! They have a really earthy-sweet spiciness that is so delicious. Plus, their color just knocks me out.

Sugar snaps take no time to cook, so add them at the very last. Stir them around for thirty seconds–just long enough to brighten that green.

Combine all the elements—farro, veggies, dressing, by folding. This dish is terrific served warm, room temperature, or chilled. It tastes fantastic the next day. It travels well. And, with its vegan ways, it can satisfy a wide range of people. Like our Third Thursday Community Pot Luck friends.



Farro and Vegetables
1 c. Farro, rinsed
6 c. Water, lightly salted
1 T. Canola Oil
8 leaves of Kale, stemmed and chopped
½ lb. Sugar Snap Peas, strung, and cut on the bias into threes
½ lb. Carrots, cut on the bias
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

bed of Arugula, for serving

Add farro to a pot of boiling water and cook for approximately 25 minutes.

In a skillet on medium heat, sauté the kale until collapsed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add carrots, and continue to cook—stir fry style—for another couple of minutes, then add the yellow pepper strips, and finally, the sugar snaps. The kale will be tender, and the other vegetables will be tender-crisp.

Fold into the cooked farro, along with the toasted sesame-sweet garlic dressing. Reserve a little dressing to enliven the salad later, or dollop on top when you serve it.

Delicious warm, room temp, or chilled over a bed of fresh greens, like arugula.

Toasted Sesame-Sweet Garlic Dressing
3 cloves fresh Garlic, sliced thin
1 T. Canola Oil
½ t. Mustard Seed
4 T. Cider Vinegar
1 T. Sugar
¼ t. Salt
1 Green Onion, coarsely chopped
10 T. Canola Oil
1 T. Toasted Sesame Oil

Gently heat a skillet and add 1 T. canola oil. Add sliced garlic and mustard seeds. Cook just enough to “sweat” the garlic—it will become softened, and sweeter. Remove from heat. In a food processor fitted with the swivel blade, place cider vinegar, sugar, salt, green onion, and cooked garlic-mustard seed mix. Pulse these together, then process, pouring in the canola oil, a little at a time. Finish with the toasted sesame oil. The dressing will emulsify nicely. Taste for seasonings and adjust. If you want peppery heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes here too.


Posted in Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Salads, Vegan

23 Responses to “Farro, for Spring or Fall”
  1. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Absolutely beautiful and delicious, I am sure. I’d really like to dig into some right now. I’m so hungry and it looks so good. I hope the rest of your prep for RELISH has been as fun as showing us this bowl of goodness.

  2. Jenny Says:

    This recipe has the colors of spring. Hopefully it also tastes like wonderful as what spring gives us. By the way, I found a social networking site that presents the most delicious food from all over the world. Enjoy!

  3. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…that bowl of healthy goodness is sure to please any palate. The colors alone are inviting.

    As the Italian that I am and as the same goes for this grain…I admit to never having eaten it! Now, what kind of Italian am I?
    Now, you got me putting it on my grocery list to replace the other grains I usaully get.

    Good luck on the articles and preparation that goes into organizing this community event ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  4. Michele Napoli Says:

    Nancy, I envy you that beautiful fall produce–especially those carrots.
    I came to farro late and made many farro salads this summer. I love it and look forward to trying your great-looking dish.

  5. Barbara Says:

    I love farro. Have used it in salads and in a wonderful recipe using zucchini from Chocolate and Zucchini. Your salad looks delicious…colorful and healthy!

  6. Cathy Says:

    I know already what I will bring to my Guild’s holiday pot luck! This salad looks beautiful and delicious. And I am excited about the article in RELISH! I look forward to reading it.

  7. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Claudia and Michele—I came to farro late in the game, too. This was my first time to cook with it, and I really loved its ease, flavor, and versatility.
    It’s delicious as a side, in a soup, and people have written about interesting risotto-style applications.

  8. Faith Says:

    How exciting about your article in RELISH! (And the Community Pot Luck sounds like so much fun!) The salad looks really fantastic, I love farro and now I realize I really need to cook with it more! :)

  9. Fluffy Says:

    Toasted Sesame Oil! Deepak Chopra tells us that this oil is the fountain of youth. It give foods the most distinct taste—delicious with the veggies and farro!


  10. Leisa Hammett Says:

    Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. I came home from potluck inspired to write a post and another guest was to send photos. Oh, well. Keep me posted. Maybe I can run a feature somehow colliding with the article!!

  11. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    wow this dish looks so lovely.. i could eat the whole thing.. thank you for sharing this.

  12. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    I just bought a big bag of farro, so this is perfect! And I love those beautiful carrots – so pretty!

  13., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Already looking forward to working with you on your upcoming Relish May 2011 Issue article when we get to shoot this marvelous looking dish. Farro has been coming up a lot in food conversations and I must admit I have never cooked with it, but am about to take some Farro for a test drive to see what it’s all about.
    It looks so organically yummy. Thanks.

  14. Nirmala Says:

    I love all the beautiful colors, Nancy. And I haven’t worked with farro. I bet this would work well with quinoa too. How fun to being working on a recipe for an article.

  15. my little expat kitchen Says:

    What a great dish! I love these flavors Nancy and the presentation is impeccable! So colorful!

  16. Karen Says:

    This looks so beautiful!! Farro is just delicious. I love the colorful carrots you used for this recipe. And the toasted sesame oil makes this extra special. Love this. :-)

  17. rhonda Says:

    aw shucks, Nancy, my lil’ ole’ dish wasn’t nearly as pretty as this one!!! haha….thanks for the nod. Ijust recently discovered farro and have enjoyed using it in different dishes. i love how it maintains its texture and taste in leftovers. i think it’s time to start making some soups with it!

  18. heather Says:

    Wonderful Nancy, I’m going to give this a try!

  19. Tammy Says:

    That is really stunning Nancy. I love the color added by your burgundy carrots. I have to do a baby shower next weekend and this might be a good side salad for us.

  20. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, what a beautiful dish…love the colors of it…and I never seen that many colors of carrot :-)
    The dressing on it sounds delicious…yummie!

  21. rach Says:

    I am both a lover of farro and autumn veg so I need little convincing about the joys of this dish. Bar the sugar snap peas I have everything I need so this will be lunch tomorrow – will confirm here. Beauteous pics BTW

  22. Joyti Says:

    Ooo, it looks DELICIOUS! And I love the bright and cheerful look and colors of your farro salad.

  23. Ingrid Says:

    Love the color. Looks really yummy!

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