Winter Farro Salad (V)

Hi guys, it’s Emily, here to share another guest post! I was first introduced to farro last spring while studying abroad in Italy. During the colder months, we had soup for lunch almost every day. It was the perfect thing to warm us up after site visits in the rain (which happened a lot). As the weather warmed up though, we switched to salads. One day, after a long morning of running around Rome looking at all of the antiquity (life was rough, guys), my classmates and I were famished. You can imagine the joy we felt when we had farro salad made with cherry tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, and basil dressing for lunch that day. It was fresh yet filling, and I have never been so sad to see a lunch end.

When I came home I made it my mission recreate this perfect food. Maybe when it gets warmer out I will share my version of that salad with you (*hint* *cough* hey Becca!). Thus began my extensive experimentation with possibility of grain salads. Farro, wheat berries, wild rice, quinoa, millet, and other hearty grains are perfect for showcasing seasonal vegetables and flavorful dressings. Even better, they only improve as they sit and the flavors get to know each other.During the warmer months, these types of dishes are perfect for barbecues and light lunches. They can be made ahead and are great at room temperature. Once the weather began to cool off though, I stopped making grain salads. I poked around for recipes that utilized winter flavors, but never really found anything that struck me. This was until I was gifted David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen over the holidays. His wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate fit the bill. During a season that is ruled by hearty stews and anything with tomato sauce and loads of cheese, this salad is much needed. Now, I love stuffed shells probably more than the average person, but sometimes I just need something a little brighter and lighter. I made this for dinner one night as a side to a roasted chicken. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t eating it out of the bowl with the serving spoon while the chicken cooked. The next day, I mixed some with shredded leftover chicken and brought it to work for lunch. Everyone was jealous.

Winter Farro Salad (Serves 6 to 8; barely adapted from My Paris Kitchen)

1 c. uncooked semi-pearled farro
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 pounds mixed root vegetables (I used carrots, parsnips, and turnips) and winter squash
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
4 cups coarsely chopped radicchio
1/2 c. chopped parsley
seeds from 1 pomegranate (I use this method to remove them)
fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1/4 c. olive oil

Cook the Farro: Rinse farro and put in a large saucepan. Add bay leaf and cover with water. Cook until tender according to packaging instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Remove bay leaf and place farro in large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Roast the Veggies: Preheat oven to 375o F. Peel vegetables and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in ovenproof dish (I used a large pyrex pan). Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until fork tender, about 35 min. Spread radicchio over vegetables and return to the oven for another few minutes, until the radicchio is wilted.

Make the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Put it All Together: Put vegetables in bowl with farro and stir together. Toss with dressing. I like to use about two thirds of it to start, taste, and adjust to my liking. You can always add more dressing, but you can’t take it away. Any extra is good on a salad tomorrow. Gently toss in parsley, pomegranate seeds, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a few grinds of pepper.