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Kalyn's Kitchen

Farro Salad with Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Farro SaladFarro is a chewy, slightly nutty tasting type of Emmer wheat that’s imported from Italy, and I loved it the first time I tasted it. Most Farro will be perlato, which means some of the hull has been removed so it won’t need to be soaked. However I bought the Farro I used in this recipe at a tiny grocery store in the North end of Providence, Rhode Island, where I went with Lydia, and it seemed to be whole-grain farro. After soaking, I cooked the Farro in a rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stove as well. True Farro can be hard to find in the U.S. (even Whole Foods sold me spelt in Salt Lake, although spelt and farro are not the same.) However, if you can’t find Farro where you live, you can make this salad with wheatberries or barley.

Since Farro, especially whole grain Farro, is a rather unusual ingredient, I thought this Farro Salad would be fun to feature for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Rachel from The Crispy Cook. If you’re cooking with interesting herbs, plants, or vegetables this week, check the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging and join in the fun.

I soaked 1 cup of farro in the bowl of my Zojirushi 3-Cup Rice Cooker for several hours, then used the brown rice setting to cook the farro. You can also soak it, then cook in water if you don’t have a rice cooker.

I made a dressing inspired by this caper vinaigrette, but this time I used sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted red bell peppers. I started by pureeing capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh parsley in the food processor.

Then I stirred in some lemon juice, Dijon, and red wine vinegar into the pureed ingredients, and whisked in olive oil.

I used asparagus stalks I’d saved when I made Pan-Fried Asparagus Tips, and I cut the stalks into short pieces and pan-fried them for this recipe too. This was a delicious salad with limitless variations, so if you don’t have exactly the ingredients I used, you can definitely improvise and make a salad that will still be great.

Farro Salad with Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

1 cup Farro (can be perlato or whole grain Farro, but perlato will cook more quickly without soaking; notice different cooking methods)
1 cup sliced asparagus stalks (slice into small pieces)
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced into small pieces
2/3 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup capers with juice
3 T minced sun-dried tomatoes
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Check your Farro to see if it seems like some of the hull is removed and decide whether to follow cooking instructions for perlato (semi-hulled) or whole grain Farro. (There’s a photo of perlato Farro in my recipe for Farro with Mushrooms which can help you decide.)

For perlato Farro:

Have 1 3/4 water heating in a teakettle or pan so it will be boiling when you’re ready to add it to the farro. Use a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1 cup farro to dry pan and toast over medium-high heat until it starts to look and smell toasted, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, and then carefully pour in the boiling water (it will boil up and sputter, so be careful.) Add pinch of salt, then turn heat back on to a low simmer, cover pan, and let cook until the farro is tender, but chewy, about 20 minutes. (I would start checking after about 15 minutes. You may need to add a tiny bit more water.) Drain water if needed.

For whole-grain Farro:
Put 1 cup Farro in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast, stirring often, until the Farro starts to pop and deepen in color, about 4 minutes. Put the toasted Farro and 1 1/2 cups water into the bowl of rice cooker and let soak 2 hours or more. Add 1 T olive oil and a pinch of salt, to rice cooker bowl, stir to combine, close cover and cook on brown rice cycle. When machine switches to keep warm setting, let Farro steam for 10-20 minutes more. Fluff with paddle before using in salad. (These Farro cooking instructions from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook.) If you don’t have a rice cooker, Toast Farro as described above, then follow instructions above for perlato Farro, but increase cooking time (start to check after 30 minutes, and cook until Farro is tender but still slightly chewy.)

While Farro cooks, put capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped parsley into bowl of food processor and process until well pureed. Scrape into bowl and stir in lemon juice, Dijon, and red wine vinegar, then whisk in olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon, vinegar, or Dijon of desired. Let dressing flavors blend.

After Farro has cooked (and steamed if using rice cooker) remove it to a plastic or glass bowl, add about 1/4 cup dressing, and stir into Farro.

If starting with whole asparagus, use the center part of the stems, throwing away woody ends and saving tips for another use. Slice enough asparagus to make 1 cup of slices about 1/2 inch thick. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in heavy pan, then add asparagus and saute about 5 minutes, or until asparagus is starting to brown but it still slightly crisp. Toss asparagus with 1 tsp. lemon juice and place in bowl with the Farro.

Chop red pepper into small dice, then add 1 tsp. more olive oil to frying pan and saute red pepper about 1 minutes. Add red pepper to bowl with the Farro.

Slice green onions and chop parsley and add to bowl with the Farro. Gently stir salad to combine ingredients, then add a bit more dressing until salad is as moist as you’d like it. (You may not need all the dressing.) Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve salad slightly warm or at room temperature. This will keep for a day or two in the fridge, but let come to room temperature before serving.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This salad would be phase 2 or 3 for the South Beach Diet. Whole grain Farro would be best for South Beach, but I think perlato Farro would still be okay. This would taste great with Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon-Mustard Pan Sauce and Stir-Fried Spinach.

More Ideas with Farro:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar from Kalyn

Autumn Harvest Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Farro from Kalyn

Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Fontina from The Kitchn

Farro with Cavolo Nero from Feel Good Eats

Farro with Beet Greens from A Veggie Venture

Warm Farro with French Lentils, Carmelized Onions, and Feta from Orangette

Farro with Mozarella di Bufula and Tomatoes from The Food Section

Farro Salad with Hot Shrimps and Shredded Savoy Cabbage from Lucullian Delights

Beans, Cabbage, and Farro Soup from Cookbook Catchall

(Want even more Farro recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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    44 Comments on “Farro Salad with Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette”

  1. Has anyone tried cooking this without adding the oil to the rice cooker (after soaking but before cooking the farro)?

  2. I used 1 1/2 cups of water (soaking it, then cooking) with whole grain farro. I'm not sure how much it would take for perlato farro; I haven't cooked that in the rice cooker.

  3. How many cups of water for 1 cup of Farro in the rice cooker?

  4. Cianni, I have had the same experience trying to buy it in stores. When I first started using it a few years ago, even Whole Foods tried to sell me spelt. This post has some information about the difference between types of farro (some need to be soaked.)

    I am intrigued by the farro pasta; will definitely check into that!