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 Perillo
Test Kitchen Notes
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&M —The Editors
8 to 12, as a side or main course
uncooked farro (or substitute barley)
medium red onion, cut in half
fresh parsley plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
salt, plus more if needed
finely diced (about 1/4 "cubes) fresh mozzarella cheese
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).
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.
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).