Farro is one of the ancient grains making a big comeback today, and with good reason, as it brings flair, flavor and whole-grain nutrition to the table in an easy, accessible way It is a type of wheat that resembles grains of barley, but with a nuttier flavor and delightful chewiness. It's perfect for today's home cook, because it is simple to prepare - you basically boil it like rice - and it is ready in about 30 minutes. No soaking necessary.
According to the Whole Grains Council, farro was one of the first domesticated grains and a staple for the Roman legions, but it eventually was abandoned in favor of wheat varieties that were easier to hull. Now it is a regular on fashionable restaurant menus, and you can find it in large grocery stores.
I often serve farro warm in a pilaf or as a bed for a Mediterranean-style stew. But I enjoy it most chilled, as the center point of a salad where its nutty toothsomeness is matched with bold flavors and textures, as it is here with a classic Greek combo of crunchy walnuts, salty feta cheese, aromatic fresh herbs and handfuls of hearty greens. It's the kind of salad that holds up well in the refrigerator for a few days, so it is perfect to pack and take to work as a main course for lunch or to have on hand as a dinner side dish with simple grilled meat.
Herbed Farro Salad With Walnuts, Feta and Spinach
Makes 4 servings
1 cup semipearled farro
About 3 cups water, or more as needed
1/3 cup walnut pieces
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (2/3 cup)
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosner salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place farro in a large saucepan. Add water to cover. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the farro is tender yet still somewhat chewy, about 30 minutes. Drain, then transfer the farro to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Toast the walnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Cool, then coarsely chop.
Add the spinach, cucumber, feta, scallion, parsley, dill, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the bowl of cooled farro; toss until well incorporated. Divide among individual plates or a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Serve right away.
Nutrients per serving: 370 calories, 13 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrate, 18 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 410 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams sugar.