In a world filled with grain salads, why should you care about this particular recipe? Because it comes with a secret weapon that may change the way you approach all grain salads from now on: onion confit oil.
Cut onions into a dice, cover them in olive oil (literally), and cook them slowly until they are caramelized and sweet, for approximately an hour. The onions will of course go into the farro salad, but the leftover oil is the unheralded hero of this dish: It's extremely savory, a little sweet, and the perfect counterbalance to the nutty and earthy flavor of the farro. The truth is, if you took plain cooked farro and seasoned it only with salt, red wine vinegar, and onion confit oil, it would still sing.
Once this baseline of flavor is established—salty, fatty, acidic, sweet—add some nuts and cheese to give the dish texture and increase its savory flavor. Then, depending on the time of year, I add whatever produce strikes my fancy. In the spring, it may be asparagus. In the summer, zucchini. Right now I’m serving this dish with arugula and persimmons, which offer beautiful contrasting colors as well as a spiciness and sweetness that complement everything else well.
But you should play: Try experimenting not only with flavors but with colors and textures as you decide what ingredients you’ll add to your salad. Just remember, whether you’re cooking farro, kasha, freekeh, or quinoa, a little bit of onion confit oil and a splash of vinegar are sure to turn a dry grain salad into something deeply satisfying.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 large onions, diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups dried farro (approximately 1/2 pound)
- 2 fuyu persimmons, skin removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1 cup diced goat Gouda, approximately 6 ounces (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, like Pecorino or Manchego)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 ounces arugula