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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!

  5. Buying farro is very confusing! I went to my Italian grocery store and bought a package of "Farro Intero". Most of the writing on the package was Italian. On the back, though, it was called "Spelt Meal" for the English translation. And the Spanish translation was "Harina de Espelta". A friend sent me some from Toronto (bought in bulk in an Italian grocery store) and it looks identical. Mind you, it looks a lot like spelt as well. Who knows what I have here… On another note, my Italian grocery store sells farro pasta which is delicious. They also sell Spelt pasta so I think it is different. (I use the farro pasta instead of whole wheat pasta as the flavour is better, imho.) Did you know that polenta was originally made with farro? It is a small yield crop so when corn came to the region, it took over.

  6. Susan, so glad it was helpful! And now I'm thinking I should be cooking some farro soon myself.

  7. I have attempted to make farro two previous times but I couldn't seem to get the cooking right and I would end up with something so chewy it was almost inedible. I found this recipe after doing a search for "farro using a rice cooker". Not only did I get the info about making the farro in my rice cooker but what looked like a great tasting dish. Toasting the farro, soaking it then cooking in the rice cooker was easy and it came out perfectly tender and delicious. I would have been happy enough with that but since I had the rest of the ingredients, I made the whole recipe. SO delicious and so healthy. The dressing recipe made more than I thought I needed so I halved the ingredients for that but otherwise followed the recipe as is. A definite make again recipe and I will be using your farro cooking tip again and again. Thanks for sharing.

  8. A perfect play of color – love how this looks a lot.

  9. Did this today and I am amazed of the results. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  10. Johanna (and others) I think brown rice or barley would both be great in this too. Wheatberries would probably be the closest to the texture of this whole grain farro, although perlato farro is more like brown rice.

    Peter, thanks! Having fun taking pictures lately.

    Jeanne, you must try it. I bet in London you can find it more easily than we can get it here.

    Sophie, I’ve noticed that too. This farro was sold bulk, no packaging, and I didn’t realize until after I cooked it that it was whole grain. Very nicely chewy though, although I like both types of farro really well.

    Michelle, I have heard that about spelt, but haven’t tried it. Hopefully as more people discover farro, it will get easier to find.

  11. I NEED to find some farro – this recipe looks fantastic. The first time I had farro was when it was served at Rancho La Puerta years ago. I tried using spelt when I got home, but it wasn’t the same… Thanks for inspiring me to begin the search again!

  12. Lovely recipe Kalyn. I love asparagus just really simply cooked (griddled) but that means I often forget to try it out in with other ingredients like your salad.

    Farro and spelt can be quite confusing to buy I find – it often isn’t clear at all from the packaging if you are getting the wholegrain versions or not. I’m looking forward to following your example and trying it in my rice cooker.

  13. Do you know, I STILL haven’t made anything with farro?? Way overdue. This looks like a bowl of edible jewels!

  14. A very colourful salad, healthy and delicious to boot! How often does that happen? The top pic is awesome!

  15. this looks fantastic and so cheerfully colourful – I don’t have farro but will look out for it but might even try brown rice or barley

  16. Nari, I’m fascinated by the description of that. Never heard of Feriec before, but it does sound a lot like Farro except for the smokiness. I’d love to try cooking Farro using the method you describe, and actually I have a bunch of turkey broth in the freezer right now and have been wondering what to do with it! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Hi,In the middle east we have what we call(FERIEC),I DO not whether feriec is farro or not but any way feriec is whole grain wheat harvested 3 weeks before complete ripening so it comes out greenish in colour and the farmers its outer ash by gathering the harvst and firing around it so it gets a special smoky flavour.We cook it like Rice BUT we add enough grated onion,some black pepper and the most important cook it in strong chicken broth or duck broth or turkey broth and if the broth is fatty like the duck broth do not add extra fat,otherwise you add the fat you chose like butter or olive oil.

  18. Lisa, thanks. Still have not found it in Salt Lake either.

    Marta, I agree, it’s very tasty besides being a healthy grain.

    Kevin, glad you like the sound of it.

  19. This is definitely my kind of salad! Whole grains, fresh seasonal vegetables and a tasty dressing!

  20. Farro is so healthy, one of the healthies ancient grains (along with amaranth, I think). But health aside, I cannot stop eating the thing, it’s so delicious!!! I love this vinaigrette, it must go so well with the nutty bite of the farro. Will try it soon 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!

  21. What a gorgeous salad. I must pick up some farro if I can find some. Happy blog birthday!

  22. Lydia, thanks again for sending me the Farro. Good tip about getting a rice cooker at a Chinese market too.

    Murasaki, that sounds delicious! I love your additions of Moroccan olives and fried sun-dried tomatoes.

  23. I was inspired by your recipe to use my frozen asparagus in a similar manner. I always freeze the chopped up stalks after cutting off the tips and using them. 🙂

    I had some leftover Jasmin rice which I steamed again, then I made a dressing/paste with sun dried tomatoes and oil cured Moroccan olives, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt and lemon juice.

    I fried the asparagus like you did in your recipe and tossed in some slivers of sun dried tomato towards the end because I love the flavor and chewy texture of fried sun dried tomatoes.

    Anyhow I mixed this all up together in a casserole dish and mixed in a nice dose of freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

    Thanks for the great idea.

  24. I love cooking farro (and other grains) in the rice cooker. And to think, for years all I cooked in it was rice! Even the least expensive rice cooker (I buy the $19 ones at Chinese markets) do a great job with grains.

  25. Pam, it would be very similar with wheatberries. They have that same kind of “chewiness” that the whole grain Farro has. Hope you like it.

    Monica, you’re welcome! Thanks for the nice feedback. Can’t believe I’ve been eating this way for more than four years myself.

  26. This salad looks amazing! I have some farro in the pantry that I brought back from Italy with us. MMMMMM

  27. I’ve been doing South Beach on and off for more than five years (total weight loss 50 lbs). I can’t believe I just found your site! It’s an awesome resource. I can’t wait to try out all of these great recipes! Thanks for all of your hard work!

  28. I can’t find farro here. But I will definitely try this with wheat berries.

  29. There are lots of places to get Farro online, so I want to make it clear that I’m not endorsing that site, and haven’t ever used it.

  30. I don’t know where to get it in SLC, but I found an online store, based out of California, that sees pretty reasonably priced. Here’s the link:


  31. If you find farro in SLC let me know. I want to try this salad!

  32. Zoe, didn’t mean to ignore you. I was answering comments and didn’t realize there were some I hadn’t published yet. No need to be embarassed, even though it’s kind of trendy I think it’s still relatively hard to find in the U.S. (and expensive in some places too.) Worth looking for though!

  33. Sealharvey, thanks for clarifying. That sounds like a place I’d love to visit the next time I go see Lydia.

  34. Hi Again,

    Salumeria is in the north end in Boston. It is a great little store. Sorry didn’t mean Providence.

  35. Thanks Joanne. I did like it a lot!

    Lydia says this is the store where I got the Farro: Legendary Polcari’s Coffee, (105 Salem St., 617-227-0786) known for its java and dried legumes since 1932. I know they ship, because when I was there they were taking an order over the phone, although Farro is pretty heavy. THANKS to Lydia who mailed a big box of food goodies for me after I visited her.

  36. I am embarrassed to say I have never had farro! Maybe I will try it with this recipe

  37. Between the asparagus and the fresh flavors, this looks like the perfect dish for a light spring supper or lunch. The dressing sounds especially great!

  38. Rachel, it was a good dressing; seemed like me there were lots of other possibilities for it!

    Pearl, it’s really delicious, slightly different from barley or wheatberries.

    Sealharvey, now I’m wondering if Salumeria is where I found it. It was a small store, mainly one long counter, where they sold things in bulk and weighed out how much you wanted. Lots of Italian products; I got some capers in salt there too.

    Lynn, I will ask Lydia if she remembers the place, because I got the farro when I was visiting her. It was a charming store, would love to live near it!

  39. Kalyn-
    Where did you find it in Providence?
    Thank you

  40. Hi Kalyn,

    Farro seems to come and go. I found
    farro pasta at Whole Foods and then it was discontinued. Also found it at
    Salumeria in the north end in Providence. Salumeria has a mail order. It was the best whole grain pasta.

  41. i have never tried farro – i am now heading over to wikipedia to read more about it!

  42. This sounds like a great recipe. Love the dressing, especially. Thanks for submitting it for WHB #180!

  43. I haven’t found it anywhere in Salt Lake, although I’ve mostly looked in mainstream grocery stores and Whole Foods. The farro in this recipe came from Rhode Island, and the first time I tried it, my brother sent me some from L.A.

  44. Kalyn, I love farro. Where did you end up finding it in SLC? Thanks for the recipe!

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