If you’re looking for a way to eat more whole grains or a new way to battle sad desk lunches, farro has your back. Writer Laura Weiss waxes poetic in an NPR article about farro, an ancient whole grain hailing from the Fertile Crescent that survives and thrives in Italian cuisine, describing its “cashew notes and undertones of cinnamon” and its satisfying chewiness. Farro packs 28% of your daily fiber and 10% of your daily iron into just ¼ cup with only 1½ grams of fat. It’s the perfect grain for a hefty winter salad. These 8 farro salads are hearty and balanced enough to stand on their own for a lighter dinner and make a perfect lunch.
For a quicker cooking farro, choose a semi-pearled brand. For more intense flavor and the full range of nutrients, choose whole farro, soak overnight, and double the cooking time.
1. Farro Salad With Blood Orange, Kumquat, and Kale
If there is one grain salad that is made to be consumed in the dead of winter, this one from Brooklyn Supper has to be it. Welcome to citrus season! If you don’t know how to supreme an orange, learn how from Food52. Segmenting the blood orange properly will make this salad easier to eat (no citrus membranes to chew through). Kumquats are lovely little Asian citrus fruits meant to be consumed with the peel on.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 1 cup farro, cooked according to instructions
- 3 cups mixed kale, cut into thin ribbons
- 3 blood oranges, supremed
- ¼ cup sliced kumquats
- ½ teaspoon, or more, sea salt
- ½ cup whole kumquats
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Drizzle of water
- Generous pinch of sea salt
Directions: To make the dressing, combine everything in a blender, pureeing until smooth. Add water or salt as needed.
Place the kale ribbons in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with half the dressing, sprinkle in some sea salt, turn leaves to coat, and set aside.
In a small frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot slices, and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the shallots are browned on the edges and translucent.
Gently toss the remaining ingredients with the kale, adding a few more slugs of dressing and adjusting salt levels as needed.
2. Farro Salad With Lentils, Beans, and Oven Roasted Vegetables
If you’re using canned beans for this recipe from Serious Eats, use semi-pearled farro to cut down on cooking time. If you’re using dried beans, you may as well reap the nutritional benefits of whole, unpearled farro; you’ll have to soak the beans overnight anyway, so throw them and the farro together from the start.
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice, about 4 cups
- 2 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1-inch dice, about 4 cups
- 1 sweet red pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 yellow pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1-inch dice
- 2 medium sweet onions, cut into 1-inch dice
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups cooked, cooled farro
- 2 cups cooked, cooled lentils
- 2 cups cooked small white beans or one 15-ounce can
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh greens such as arugula
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini, eggplants, red and yellow peppers, onion, garlic, ½ cup olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables out onto two large foil-lined baking sheets and roast until soft and lightly browned, stirring every so often as they cook, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, add the farro, lentils, beans, parsley, fresh greens, and cooled vegetables. Toss to mix well. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil and mix well. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
3. Farro Salad With Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Basil
Combining the earthiness of mushrooms with the bright herbaceousness of basil against the sweetness of cherry tomatoes and the slight bitterness of sautéed radicchio, this farro salad from David Lebovitz is packed with flavor. He offers a spring variation of asparagus, peas, fava beans, and the last of your stored butternut squash, if you tire of this Mediterranean version.
- 1½ cups farro
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ pound mushrooms, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 small head radicchio
- ½ cup green or black olives, pitted and chopped
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- ½ pound cherry tomatoes, halved, or quartered if they’re large
- 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
Directions: Cover the farro with the 2 quarts of water in a big pot and add the bay leaves. Cook at a low boil, stirring only very occasionally to make sure the grains aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, until cooked to your liking; 25 to 60 minutes depending on how you like your farro. When it’s done, drain, remove bay leaves, and leave to cool to room temperature.
While the farro is cooking, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-to-high heat and sauté the mushrooms seasoning them with salt and pepper until they’re seared and cooked through. Add the thyme, then stir in the garlic and radicchio and continue to cook until the radicchio is wilted and cooked through. Transfer cooked vegetables to a large bowl.
Once the vegetables are cool, if they’re not in bite-sized pieces, spread them on a cutting board and chop them a bit until they are, then return them to the bowl. Add the olives, basil, tomatoes, onion, and farro to the vegetables.
Briskly whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and stir the dressing into the salad. Serve at room temperature.
4. Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad
The New York Times shares this stunning farro salad from the restaurant Charlie Bird in SoHo, New York, which features an important lesson in building a stellar farro salad. First, the farro must be cooked with salt and aromatics so it’s delicious on its own. An unflavored bed of farro will result in a flat-tasting salad. The second rule is to use very good olive oil in the dressing — something with plenty of flavor on its own.
- 1 cup farro
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- ½ cup chopped pistachio nuts
- 2 cups arugula leaves
- 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn
- 1 cup mint leaves
- ¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
- Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing
Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add farro, cheese and pistachio nuts and mix well. Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.
5. Farro Salad With Smoked Trout
Though Chef Daniel Klein originally designed this salad for fresh-caught and smoked mullet, Food & Wine has updated it with easier-to-find smoked trout. If possible, find beets with the greens still attached and use the whole plant in this salad. If that isn’t possible, grab a bunch of Swiss chard as a substitute, ribs removed.
- 3 small beets
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 4 cups water
- Kosher salt
- 1½ cups semi-pearled, uncooked farro
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 ounces skinless smoked trout fillet, flaked
- ½ pound beet greens
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small baking dish, lightly drizzle the beets with olive oil and rub to coat. Cover with foil and roast for about 1 hour, until the beets are tender. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut into ½-inch dice.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the farro and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the farro to a bowl and discard the garlic and herbs. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to circulate air.
In a small bowl, combine the shallot, lemon juice and honey. Gradually whisk in the ⅓ cup of oil and season with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of the dressing with the trout. Add the beets, greens and the remaining dressing to the farro and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, scatter the trout on top and serve.
6. Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad With Feta and Avocado
Don’t make this salad from Cookie and Kate until your avocado is really, truly ripe. Let it sit out on the counter an extra day just to make sure to really let it develop plenty of flavor. The farro is garlicky and the cauliflower is caramelized, both developing nutty tones. The feta and olives are salty, the sun dried tomatoes are just a bit sweet, and a perfectly ripe avocado rounds it all out.
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Light sprinkle fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 15 pitted kalamata olives, some halved lengthwise and some sliced into small rounds
- ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 ounces feta, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
- 4 handfuls leafy greens
Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, red pepper flakes and a light sprinkle of sea salt. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden on the edges.
In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed farro with enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy. Drain off the excess water and mix in two teaspoons of olive oil, the garlic, and sea salt. Set aside.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the roasted cauliflower, cooked farro, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Divide the avocado and greens among four salad plates. Top with a generous amount of the cauliflower and farro salad. Finish the plates with an extra squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve.
7. Farmhouse Farro Salad
This farro salad from Love and Lemons is a combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and nutty and is packed with great-for-you ingredients. For more protein, add seared tempeh or grilled chicken. It’s not totally necessary to shave the carrots into ribbons, but why wouldn’t you? How fun.
- 1 cup cooked farro
- 1 sweet potato, chopped into cubes
- A few leaves of kale, chopped or torn
- 2 to 3 cups salad greens
- 1 to 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
- 1 apple, diced
- A few radishes, sliced
- Small handful of chopped parsley
- ½ cup chopped and toasted almonds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
In a large bowl, lightly massage the kale with a bit of the dressing until the kale wilts down. Add the farro and mix. Add remaining salad ingredients and toss with more dressing to taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.