Weeknight Cooking

A Farro and Beet Salad to Close the Gap Between Winter and Spring

March 28, 2016

We partnered up with our friends at Miele for our latest contest—The Recipe You're Most Proud Ofand we're featuring some of the community members behind the recipes. We'll feature this dish, and others from the contest, at upcoming Food52 demos.

Breaking out of the cold-weather ritual that is roasting means something significant: A turning of seasons, moods, household heat levels. It's all about less squatting in front of the oven and more T-shirts and cracked windows. So when Kylie Thompson was developing her Warm Farro with Mushrooms and Crispy Beets for our recent contest The Recipe You're Most Proud of, she set her eyes on a recipe that teetered on the brink of winter and spring, of earthy-deep and crunchy-fresh. (She did well, too: It was chosen as a Community Pick!)

Here's more about Kylie's multi-texture grain salad in her own words, from why it's the recipe she's most proud of, plus why she'd like to share it with Woody Allen:

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What makes this the recipe you're most proud of?

A few months after we moved to Brooklyn, we were introduced to a CSA that I fell in love with—Nextdoorganics. I'd never participated in a CSA before, but my friend suggested that I try it out, and so I did. After posting pictures of the meals I cooked with my CSA food on a regular basis, I became a contributing blogger to their site, which required me to really focus on writing my own recipes. Although I can follow a recipe and usually execute it pretty well, creating my own was something I'd always struggled with. Because my job is to provide readers with new and unique recipes, I've been working on developing that skill. The reason I'm really proud of this recipe is because I felt like I developed it with relative ease and it combined everything I liked about food—a slight butteriness, contrasting textures, filling, and affordable. I also liked how adaptable this recipe is. It could be served as a side dish to chicken or pork or it can be eaten on its own for a satisfying meal.

Kylie in her kitchen, with farro makings. Photo by Emily Kinsolving

What inspired this recipe?

Honestly, I had a bunch of beets in my fridge and I felt like I needed to do something more interesting than just roasting them. I started imagining them as a crunchy garnish. I worked back from that point and started thinking about the meal texturally and knew I wanted a vegetable to contrast the crunchy beets and thought mushrooms would create an amazing combination. From there, I started getting more granular, trying to think about whether I wanted a salad or a stew—and that's when I landed on making this a grain-based dish. All of it came together in the end even though my first attempt was a total failure and my fiancé was up to his ears in farro for a week.

Beets a-crackling on the stovetop. Photo by James Ransom

Who would you love to serve this recipe to/eat it with?

Okay, this is weird but bear with me. So, a small part of my desire to live in New York City was shaped by Woody Allen movies. I always thought that if I ever lived in New York, I'd be like a character in one of his movies. When we first moved here, I was working in Manhattan regularly and I kept hoping I might see him one day. That never happened, but I still kind of fantasize that I'll run into him and then we'd get to talking in a café, and then he'd realize that I totally have a knack for acting, and then, before I knew it, my fantasy would lead me to become a celebrity. Okay, so back to the question... I'd totally eat this with Woody Allen and see if everything plays out the way it did in my head.

What's the cooking technique or tip that's changed the way you cook?

As I mentioned, I love being part of the Nextdoorganics CSA. It forces me to create recipes with food that is in season, and it's nice working within the limitations of what I have in my fridge. This has actually led me to being a bit more creative in the kitchen. The next one hasn't necessarily revolutionized my cooking ability, but it has solved a major point of culinary frustration for me.

Over the summer, I got really into weekend breakfasts with my S.O.—I would always try to do something creative and delicious. I'd cook soft-boiled eggs, fried eggs, dippy eggs, sunny side-up eggs, scrambled eggs, but one egg that I could never master was the poached egg. This drove me insane. I did the swirly technique, the plastic wrap technique, the weird mason jar thing... I was at my wit's end and just accepted my lot in life as someone who couldn't poach eggs.

A few weeks ago, I referenced a recipe on Serious Eats that recommended a ladling technique for the poached eggs. I mustered up all the courage I had left and told myself that, come hell or high water, I was going to master the poached egg. Anyway, it worked! Simply strain the egg through a sieve and transfer it to a ladle. Slowly dip the ladle into vinegar-spiked water with a quick twirl and done. I've been poaching eggs left and right since. Life is good.

Miele's been a part of the Food52 family since our first photo shoot (Amanda's mighty Miele dishwasher got us through 3 years of dishes). Learn more about how to update your kitchen with their products, like the induction cooktop we used to prepare this Warm Farro with Mushrooms and Crispy Beets.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda Evans
    Linda Evans
  • Maedl
  • Nancy Carroll
    Nancy Carroll
  • Kylie Thompson
    Kylie Thompson
  • laurenlocally
I love oysters and unfussy sandwiches.


Linda E. April 3, 2016
Just about poached eggs. Eggs poach beautifully if they are up to 2 days old -- nothing left in the pan, and you just crack the egg and drop it into boiling salted water. By a week, the egg is still pretty compact, but there are bits of streamers left in the pan when you lift the egg out. By 2-3 weeks, hardly any white is sticking to the yolk in a compact form. I only poach eggs when I know I'm in that first week. They taste better, too.
Maedl April 2, 2016
I made this for dinner tonight and think the recipe is a keeper. I made only one change--I substituted mint for parsley and thought that added a subtle flavor that worked with the other ingredients. I served it with a wilted cabbage salad and Pignoletto, a white wine from Emilia-Romagna. Thanks for the recipe!
Nancy C. March 29, 2016
Okay, I totally get the Woody Allen thing. And I think we could be friends because I love the glasses and I suspect we have the same chambray shirt and , well, beets. I confess that I was going to cancel my CSA, but I am going to try this recipe and take a much more active role in creative cooking thanks to this recipe. Thank you for refocusing me on why I like cooking and where my food comes from
Kylie T. March 30, 2016
Haha, I'm glad you get the Woody Allen thing! And yeah, I love having the CSA because it always helps me to cook within the constraints of my fridge and it helps keep my cost per meal lower; I love it! :-)
Kylie T. March 28, 2016
So honored to have my recipe picked as a Community Pick! :-) Thank you, everyone!
laurenlocally March 28, 2016
Can't wait to try this technique.