1 C farro (or substitute other grains and veggies as described in Notes below.)
Found in whole grain or bulk section of store or co-op.
3 C water (or substitute vegetable or chicken stock)
6 stalks asparagus
1 C cherry tomatoes
1 C sugar snap peas
¼ C crumbled feta cheese
2 T chopped, fresh parsley
2 T chopped, fresh dill
1 small shallot, diced (~¼ cup) May substitute green onions or chives.
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ C homemade or store-bought balsamic (or your favorite) vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse and drain farro. Place in a pot and add water or stock. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes or until al dente (tender but firm). Drain off any excess liquid. Place in a large bowl to cool slightly.
2. Cut 1” off ends of asparagus. If ends still seem “woody”, use a vegetable peeler to remove outer later a couple of inches up. Cut into 1” pieces. Slice cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas in half.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add asparagus and sugar snap peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Immediately drain and submerge vegetables in an ice bath. Once cool, drain.
4. Place vegetables, feta cheese, chopped herbs, shallot, and garlic in the bowl with the slightly cooled farro. Add dressing. Using a spatula, fold until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The recipe and picture above come from To Taste – developed by a team of registered dietitians, chefs, and culinary medicine specialists. Their helpful website offers grain and other plant-based recipes, basic cooking techniques and plenty of substitutions to satisfy different tastes.
For added nuttiness, toast the farro in the pot for a minute or two before adding the liquid.
Other intact whole grains that keep their shape like brown rice, farro, quinoa, barley, and spelt are also good in salads like Greek Tabouli. If you want your grain salad to hold well all week, choose hearty vegetables that won’t get mushy or spoil quickly.
You may find quick cooking varieties of farro (done in 10 minutes) and other whole grains at your local grocery store.
For added protein, add some rinsed and drained canned navy or garbanzo beans.
The "blanching" method described in step 3 can be used to prepare most vegetables for salads or go freeze them. The National Center for Home Food Preparation offers specific blanching times for many veggies.
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A classmate used to create delicious lunch salads from what was found in our college cafeteria! To her plate of greens, veggies, nuts or seeds, she often added beans, cheese, brown rice or other whole grains. This kind of plate - mostly plant foods – is featured in this recipe for “Warm Farro Salad with Spring Veggies”.
Grain salads are easy to make and often last for days, and their flexibility means you can do a lot of improvising with whatever tasty in-season produce you have on hand.
Whole grains like farro are often a forgotten source of plant protein and other nutrients. It "is a grain with nutty flavor, and it's popular in the Mediterranean type of cuisine," says Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian. The dense ancient grain is rich in nutrition with a plethora of health benefits.
In her Mayo Clinic Minute video, Guy also tells us that “farro is a great source of fiber, iron, protein and magnesium. One serving (2/3 Cup) provides about 200 calories, 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. The fiber content is really important because it improves digestive health” and satisfies hunger longer.
Farro and other whole grains can be used in salads, as a warm breakfast cereal, in risotto, soups or as a pilaf-like side dish. My Food Data from the US Deptartment of Agriculture offers nutrition information about using other high protein grains like kamut, spelt, amaranth, teff, quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, and barley. Many also have an interesting history going back to ancient foragers and farmers, as described by the The Whole Grains Council.