Make Ahead

Heidi Swanson's Mostly Olive Salad, With Some Farro

January 13, 2016
9 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

The farro salad from Heidi Swanson's Near and Far is so appealing—made with walnuts, bunches of alliums, and golden raisins, all dressed in a sweet and acidic vinaigrette—that even a whole pound of olives (yes, a pound!) couldn't keep me, a former olive hater, away.

In this dish, olives are not bits of shaved tire in a salad bar or petrified eyeballs with mysterious pits that no one knows what do with. Here, olives are briny in a soft and savory way, hefty, and hospitably green. The olives seatbelt the salad. In one olive is all of the richness, spice, sugar, and oil of the salad itself. In one, there is many!

Just slightly adapted From Near & Far. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups whole or semi-pearled farro
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pinch fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 pound fancy green olives (preferably Castelvetrano), rinsed then pitted
  • 4 tablespoons to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnut halves
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (seeds included or discarded, as you wish)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 handful shaved pecorino or Parmesan, for serving
  • 4 drops ricotta, for serving (optional)
  1. In a saucepan, combine the farro, water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set over medium-high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat from a boil to a simmer, and simmer gently (still covered) for about 15 minutes if semi-pearled, longer if whole. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain off any water and set aside.
  2. Coarsely chop the olives and place them in a bowl along with the olive oil, walnuts, green onions, chives, red pepper flakes, jalapeño, honey, lemon juice, raisins, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to serve.
  3. If you've refrigerated the olive mixture, bring it back to room temperature before the final toss.
  4. Combine the farro and olive mixture in a bowl and mix to combine. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.
  5. Serve and top with thin strips of shaved cheese and dollops of ricotta, as desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Lune

17 Reviews

Juls February 20, 2023
Excellent! It’s bright and perfectly balanced. Subbed tangerine & currents for raisins, delish!
Cynthia C. October 16, 2022
Great for lunches - I added a hardboiled egg. Yummy and satisfying. You could add a huge variety of vegetables to make simple changes.
Sabine G. December 27, 2021
This is incredible! Only thing I changed due to not having walnuts or golden raisins on hand was to sub dates and toasted hazelnuts! It was one of the best salads I’ve made all year and I make a lot of them! Simple to assemble, so flavorful, and texturally perfect! Bravo!
kim G. July 30, 2020
I will make this again and again! Wow! A tale as old as time, I didn't have all the ingredients, but I had the soul of the recipe, so I will make a dedicated grocery list next time I make this. Delightful and balanced. YUM!
hookmountaingrowers June 15, 2019
Really wonderful dish. THANK YOU! used a little less olives but stayed true to the rest. A real winner
Tori P. September 15, 2018
This recipe is amazing! I added in some oven roasted carrots and didn't use quite as many olives just to keep the cost down. I also threw in some pea shoots and it was delicious! Such a winner! I also used dill and tarragon in place of chives.
Ttrockwood February 20, 2017
I have made this recipe so many times! It works great with any hearty grain, i often swap in barley or quinoa since they're easier to find than farro. Very tasty with pecans or sunflower seeds. I usually omit the ricotta and use nutritional yeast instead of parm so it's vegan. All variations have been delicious!
Sarah J. February 20, 2017
So glad to hear it works with these variations, Ttrockwood!
Flavia November 22, 2016
Can this recipe be made a couple of days ahead? And, maybe mix the farro and the olive mixture the day of serving?
Sarah J. November 22, 2016
Definitely! Cook the farro, complete step 2, then store both in the fridge. Bring to room temp before tossing together.
Natalie R. July 31, 2016
Made this recipe almost exactly, but with only one tablespoon olive oil because I keep it in the fridge and it was being a pain to get out of the bottle. Castelvetrano olives are my favorite, and I looked forward to every meal of leftovers. Considering I live alone and made a 2/3 recipe, I think that demonstrates my love for this salad. I was very sad to see it go. Use a bold, dark honey if you have it. Going by the picture, my allium bunches were both far larger than expected, but that was fine.
Lune July 24, 2016
didn't have the all the ingredients on hand so I used the recipe as a base. Farro replaced by frekkeh and raisins replaced by dates. Made some fresh ricotta and voila! In the bento box for lunch!
Caroline L. June 21, 2016
I love this salad so much. I've never had walnuts on hand when making it, so I can say that it is very delicious with pecans (and regular, rather than golden raisins) instead.
Joeyman9 February 2, 2016
Forgot to mention, added some roasted tomatoes in olive oil and garlic that I found at the olive bar at the supermarket. Added some zip to an already zippy dish
Joeyman9 February 1, 2016
Made this last evening, as a make ahead for some office lunches this week. Warm evening in NJ, so fired up the grill for some burgers. This salad was wonderful with the burgers last evening and excellent with some grilled chicken thighs for lunch today. This salad is delicious , versatile and is packed with flavors. A definite add in to the rotation in our kitchen. Worth the time, which is minimal. Enjoy
Allie January 24, 2016
So very tasty on round one, and will make this again! Thank you for this recipe. Taking to work to share for a 'not so boring lunch.' Thinking about adding some bits of sun-dried tomato for color (my olives were the more earthy green) and will go with dish nicely.
Sarah J. January 24, 2016
Sun-dried tomatoes = very smart addition!