Summer Farro Salad

By • June 14, 2010 • 43 Comments



Author Notes: I love farro for its nutty texture, and it has the same nutritional benefits as brown rice but cooks in half the time. Rather than simply cook it in water, I added some garlic, onion and parsley to the pan to infuse extra flavor. This recipe started with the Mr. asking me to cook something for his office potluck, so I decided to focus on a salad that could easily double as a side or main course for any vegetarians hoping to take part in the potluck. Studded with tiny bits of fresh mozzarella, chopped olives, onions and grape tomatoes, it's now my new favorite summer salad. The dressing is also a very versatile vinaigrette you can toss with any mixed greens for a homemade option to bottled dressings. - Jennifer PerilloJennifer Perillo

Food52 Review: This salad would be great as a side dish, or as a one-dish meal. Jennifer Perillo starts by cooking the farro with red onion, parsley and a clove of garlic, perfuming the grains with the aromatics as they cook. Juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and briny kalamatas break up any potential monotony, and diced red onion, basil and parsley keep the dish from feeling heavy. For the dressing, she combines olive oil, a little honey and two different vinegars (we love how the cleaner, more bracing tang of red wine vinegar cuts through the sticky, caramel notes of the balsamic); the rich, nutty farro takes to the sweet-sour vinaigrette like a moth to a flame. - A&MA&M

Serves 8 to 12, as a side or main course

  • 2 cups uncooked farro (or substitute barley)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut in half
  • 1 clove garlic
  • handful of fresh parsley plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup finely diced (about 1/4 "cubes) fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • FOR THE DRESSING
  • scant 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. Add the farro, one onion half, garlic, handful of parsley and salt along with 2 3/4 cups water to a 2 quart pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off burner and let sit, covered, for 5 more minutes. Discard the onion, garlic and large pieces of parsley. Spread out on a rimmed sheet pan and let cool completely (do not skip this step or the mozzarella will melt into the finished dish).
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegars and honey to prepare the dressing. Chop the remaining onion half finely. Add onion, cooled farro, mozzarella, kalamata olives, tomatoes, remaining tablespoon of parsley and basil to a deep bowl. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and stir well to combine, using a long wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper. The salad is ready to serve, but can also be made and stored in the fridge, covered, one day ahead.
Jump to Comments (43)

Tags: can be made ahead, Entrees, Italian, picnic, Salads, Side Dishes, Summer, Vegetarian, wheat-free

Comments (43) Questions (2)

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4 days ago Stephanie

I just made this for my work lunch as I made dinner tonight. Had to sneak a bite - Delish!! Thank you :)

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about 1 year ago Xtinabytes

I made this for the second time tonight. Subbed a salty sheep's milk feta for the mozzarella. Was divine!

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about 1 year ago Socalgal52

This is great! I substituted quinoa for the barley to make it gluten free and up the protein.

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about 1 year ago koc

Delicious! My family loved it. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

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almost 3 years ago jilladavis

Loved this salad. What a hit with the relatives! I made a sling change. I substituted goat cheese for the mozzarella, added roasted asparagus and used lemon juice and olive oil for the dressing. This is my new favorite.

Thanks for the inspiration Jennifer. This was my first time using farro thanks to you!

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almost 3 years ago Robb

Added cucumber instead of olives. Outstanding recipe.

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about 3 years ago venguyen

Thank you for this recipe! I subbed jicama because I don't like raw onions.

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over 2 years ago melissamachete

Have you tried rinsing the onions? I do this when i want texture and a little bit of the onion flavor, but I don't want to over power the other flavors. You end up with a very mild onion flavor.

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about 3 years ago MaryDD

I made this a day ahead and took it camping. Delicious! Everyone thought it was so fresh and zesty after having the usual slightly unhealthy camp fare ( hot dogs, burgers etc..) I made it with barley as I couldnt find farro.

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about 3 years ago laurava

I could tell that my 20 something year olds sons were skeptical when I served this dish. I marinated and grilled chicken to add to the dish. It was a big hit! I found the farro at our local Whole Foods. Thank you for the recipe.

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about 3 years ago jskemom

I was able to find a large bag of organic pearled farro at Costco in San Diego FYI.

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about 3 years ago jskemom

I was able to find a large bag of organic pearled farro at Costco in San Diego FYI.

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about 3 years ago fitsxarts

this is really delicious! definitely a keeper.

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over 3 years ago HandRocksLadle

What an amazing, and healthy recipe! Made it last night to go alongside dinner and my fiance raved about it. Brought leftovers to work today for my co-workers to try and they loved it too! Will definitely be adding this to my summer salad rotation -- thank you for sharing!

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almost 4 years ago Jennifer Perillo

Wow, I am always amazed at the wonderful group of people that have been drawn together through Food52. After a little midnight browsing, I saw the string of comments, and it was so heartwarming to hear how this one little recipe has created raves and new avenues for creativity and looking at ingredients in a new light in your own homes.

I feel touched knowing I've shared a meal in some small way with each of you. Thank you for welcoming me into your kitchens.

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about 4 years ago Dedegumbert

Loved it. I used fresh mozzarella pearls and local " sweet 100 " cherry tomatoes. My husband loved it as well!

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about 4 years ago TinaMiB

This was the most amazing recipe!! A mix of caprese salad and farro. My family is already wanting me to make it again. It is amazing! Our local grocery store makes handmade mozzarella daily. The only change I will make next time is add more olives and instead of mincing them, keep them a little bigger. Thanks for the amazing recipe.

I lucked out and our Whole Foods had farro. The lady checking me out said it had to be new because she had never seen or heard of it before.

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about 4 years ago Julia Alling

Second time on my menu. Didn't have tomatoes nor mozzarella. Substituted parmesan and peaches add the other half of a roasted red onion (left over from a Bittman guacamole). Delightful. This recipe has provided me a new platform for using vegetables... thank you.

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about 4 years ago laura21

this recipe was good but I failed to notice the indication that it serves 12 people. now I have so much of this stuff I dont know what to do with it. seriously, I could have mixed the salad in the bathtub I had so much barley ( I used barley instead)

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about 4 years ago ncavillones

I could eat it all day, every day so if you don't want it, send it along! LOL Or Foist it on a neighbor.

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Healthierkitchen, that's good to know about the difference in cooking times. Sounds like what's marketed as "farro" (at about five times the cost per pound, incidentally) cooks up a lot more quickly. I always pre-soak my whole grains by boiling them for a minute or two in the morning, covering, and then cooking them up in the evening, so it's never been a problem for me. Thanks! ;o)

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about 4 years ago healthierkitchen

That's a great idea! thirschfeld also recommended a soaking method in the string of posts on Merrill's farro dish. Farro can be pricey, but as laura21 noted, two cups serves a party.

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about 4 years ago ncavillones

For some reason, I couldn't find farro anywhere. I checked my local food co-op and at the large chain supermarket. I ended up using barley. I also changed up the ingredients to use what I had on hand, and it came out really good! I think the dressing is really what makes this dish.
My changes:
I used thyme, instead of basil and parsley.
I used feta, instead of mozzarella.
For veggies, I used spinach and grilled summer squash.
I left out the tomatoes and olives, since I didn't have them on hand.

I love how versatile this recipe is, and hopefully, I'll be able to find farro soon because I'd love to try it!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You could try asking for "spelt berries" when looking for farro, as that is how they are commonly known here in the US. ;o)

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about 4 years ago healthierkitchen

AJ is right that you can try spelt, but be forwarned that it will probably cook up differently! Most farro sold in the US is semi pearled (or "parlato") and, therefore, cooks a little faster. A while back I bought the bulk spelt at the co-op when they didn't have farro and it took forever to cook, guests waiting, family grumpy, etc. I'm guessing it was whole and not pearled at all. I can see in this recipe and I know in mine, the amount of cooking time for the farro would be very different than for spelt. ncavillones, you could also mail order the farro - I think I even saw it here on Food 52 in the Shop. Sorry to stick my 2 cents in, but figured I'd share my spelt experience.

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about 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Are there any Italian markets near you? I have no problem finding farro at my local Whole Foods, but it's everywhere at the Italian markets on Federal Hill and in Boston's North End, so checking an Italian market might be another option for you. Alternately, if any of your local stores carry the Rustichella d'Abruzzo brand of pastas, you might ask if they can order you their farro. You can also order direct from them online. Good luck!

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about 4 years ago ncavillones

thanks, all, for the suggestions! we do have a whole foods about 30 minutes from us, so i'll look there for the farro. i really want to try it!

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about 4 years ago ENunn

Two nights ago I made a batch of this, along with Amanda's Shrimp Bittman and my own corn and cucumber salad. My favorite meal this summer. And, as has been pointed out here, it's completely addictive. You want to keep eating it forever.

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about 4 years ago Midge

This is downright addictive. Thanks for turning me on to farro Jennifer! Such nutty deliciousness.

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about 4 years ago witloof

i was inspired by this to make a salad with farro. i chopped up cucumber, orange bell pepper, scallions, parsely and mint, and added that to the farro {thanks for the great tip about cooking it with onion!}. i dressed it with olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped garlic. it was delicious.

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Perillo

This is what I love most about recipes—when they inspire people to think outside the box. Your creation sounds like a refreshing summer dish!

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about 4 years ago lacerise

The salad is delicious even w/o the chopped onion. We really enjoyed it! It's best eaten the day it's made. I think next time I might replace the mozzarella with a more flavorful cheese.

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Perillo

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. A little note about the mozzarella I use—it's from the local Italian shop is often still warm, having just been made. It has a creamy texture and flavor, something you won't find in a "fresh" mozzarella stocked in the refrigerated section of supermarkets (I'm not sure which you used). I'd love to hear what other cheeses you experiment using, and which is your favorite.

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about 4 years ago Julia Alling

This went over REALLY well! Everyone at my salad pot-luck loved it!

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Perillo

It really is the kind you can keep eating by the forkful. In fact, there's some left in my fridge and I'm resisting the urge to sneak a bowl since it's almost 11:00pm.

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Perillo

Glad everyone is enjoying this recipe. It's my new favorite too. I also use a risotto technique to cook farro and the kids go crazy for it. It's a very versatile grain.

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about 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

I absolutely love farro, and this dish looks amazing. Another great recipe, Jennie!

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations, Jennifer --great recipe!

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about 4 years ago allie

Does the recipe list anywhere to chop the other half of the onion and add it? Clearly seems to be what's intended, but I don't see that instruction.

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about 4 years ago Food52

This is from your friendly editors at Food52.

Yes! Thank you for pointing that out. The instructions have been updated.

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

Faro is my new favorite grain... Ihave been eating it several times a week. Where was it all thesel years! Thanks for a grealt recipe!

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about 4 years ago WinnieAb

Believe it or not, I have yet to try farro. This looks wonderful!

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about 4 years ago ENunn

This looks delicious. I wish I could think of something more original to say. But it looks delicious.