Summer Clouds and Farro Salad

After my European farming adventures, I decided to spend some time in Seattle to decompress and plot my next move. This means that I’ve been living at my parents’ house for the past few weeks. In very recent developments, it turns out that I won’t be here for much longer. I am moving to Oakland in less than two weeks to sublet a friend’s room for a couple of months and attempt to find a job. But, in the meantime, being home has meant that I’ve spent lots of time with my parents. And I love them with all my heart, so that’s been nice. Plus, my mom is an excellent cook. She invited our neighbors over for dinner the other night and made a ginger peach crumble for dessert. I missed out on the crumble hot out of the oven, so I scooped a big piece of their leftovers from the pan this morning, warmed it up a bit and ate it for breakfast with vanilla ice cream and a cup of coffee. Home sweet home!

I first heard about this farro salad from my friend Regan. She’d recently tried it at a summer barbeque and raved about it. I had never cooked farro before and wanted to give it a try. So, Regan kindly emailed her friend for the recipe and passed it along to me. Do I just have farro on the brain, or does this hearty ancient grain seem to be popping up in recipes and restaurants everywhere? Is farro the new quinoa? I might be willing to bet on it.

In Seattle, we get these incredibly beautiful summer days – sunny and warm and fresh. Of course, every string of sunny days gets interrupted with a cloudy, cool and drizzly day or two. I like those days. They make me thankful for the sunshine. And the clouds seem to sharpen things into focus. Green appears greener and the city smells crisp and new. To me, this salad tastes like one of those cloudy summer days in the very best way. The farro has the same effect as the clouds, sharpening the crisp and vibrant veggies into focus, making them taste clean and fresh.

Farro Summer Salad

This is not a recipe to be followed precisely. It’s more of a choose-your-own-adventure salad with a farro foundation. I recommend the veggies listed below. They are in season and look good together – the hot pink and white radishes, bright green peas and soft yellow corn – but you can choose whatever veggies sound good to you.

Farro Summer Salad

Serves 4 as a first course

2 cups farro or red wheat berries

1 bunch radishes

1 pound fresh sweet peas

3 ears fresh corn

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn into bite sized pieces or roughly chopped

Olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste

About 4 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled

  • Cook the farro at a slow boil in 6 cups water for about 50 minutes until chewy but not squeaky. While the farro is cooking, remove the sweet peas from their pods, scrape the corn kernels from the cob, and slice radishes in thin rounds. Combine all the veggies in a large serving bowl with the garlic, basil and juice from half a lemon.
  • When the farro is ready, drain it, rinse over cold water to cool and add to the fresh veggies. Gently mix the salad together while adding a thin stream of olive oil to taste.  Mix and add the rice wine vinegar in dashes, tasting as you go. (I’m in no position to provide an accurate vinegar measurement because I tend to have a very heavy hand with all things acidic. I would happily drink rice wine vinegar from a spoon.) Let your tastebuds be your guide! Same goes for the salt and pepper. Mix and taste, mix and taste. Once it tastes just right, crumble a hunk of feta or goat cheese over the top and mix again.
  • Serve alone in small bowls or plated on a bed of arugala.
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