Farro is a fairly new grain to us, especially in salad. To be honest, it took a couple of tries to get it just right for our Farro Salad. We hope to save you similar trouble.
Farro takes a long time to cook on the stove top. The first time we tried, we didn’t let it cook long enough. The texture was strange. The best way to describe it was, squeaky. The grains literally squeaked between our teeth. So unless you like your grains to squeak at you when you chew them, make sure you follow the cooking directions closely and know whether you are using pearled farro or whole farro.
Pearled farro is missing some of its bran, similar to pearled barley, therefore takes less time to cook. However, this can be sometimes difficult to ascertain, as not all farro is labeled as such. For instance, farro from Bob’s Red Mill is not labeled as pearled, yet the instructions say to cook for 30 minutes. Go figure.
Whole farro, which we used, takes up to two hours to cook. Thank goodness for the Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker that cuts the time by almost two thirds. The texture of the farro came out perfect: firm and a bit chewy, but tender without being mushy. Absolutely 100% squeak-less.
Pearled farro should work in this recipe. Just follow the cooking instructions carefully and you should be fine.
So why farro? Who go through the trouble to make a salad from this finicky grain?
Farro is said to be the oldest grain cultivated by humans and is high in protein, fiber, and B-vitamins. And, if cooked right, the texture is amazing. Like in our Farro Salad.
As you can tell, texture is very important to us in a salad. We love a healthy salad chock full of grains a greens, but we hate the sometimes unpleasant chewiness of raw greens like kale. We like our kale to be a bit softer. More relaxed, if you will.
We gave our kale a massage.
Yes, you read that correctly. Treat your kale to a spa day. Drizzle a little oil and sprinkle a dash of salt over the kale and using your freshly-washed hands, massage the kale for a few minutes until the leaves are shiny and soft. This may draw some moisture from the kale, so drain away any excess liquid as you see fit.
Now your kale is in a Zen-like, relaxed state. A little less rough around the edges.
Fennel adds a bright, crisp anise flavor and a crunch that’s similar to celery. We love it in grains salads, like our Warm Brown Rice Salad. Fennel is full of vitamin C, fiber, potassium and folate. We sliced it thin, using our favorite mandoline slicer.
We also love beets, but knowing beets have a strong flavor, we didn’t want the beet to overwhelm this salad. One steamed beet sliced into matchsticks was enough to add a slight beet flavor without overwhelming the salad with beaucoup beet.
The subtle sweetness of the fennel and beet pairs best with a tangy, savory dressing. We went with our Red Wine Vinaigrette and added a little smoked paprika and diced shallot.
Rather than serving immediately, we let this salad sit for 20 minutes so the farro soaked up a bit of the dressing. It was hard to wait to dive into this beautiful salad, but totally worth it.
So, yes. Farro is worth a little extra hassle. This unique, nutritious grain made our Farro salad satisfying, with a complex texture and flavor.
Go forth and farro!
Disclosure: The Salad Lobby earns a commission for purchases made through links in this recipe, at no extra cost to you.