Stovetop: Warm Farro Salad with Citrus Dressing

July 11, 2022

Stovetop: Warm Farro Salad with Citrus Dressing
Stovetop: Warm Farro, Arugula Citrus Salad

No, this is not an Indian recipe nor is it completely my own. It is a recipe that I love eating when I am not eating Indian, though. It's at once healthy and filling. I first started experimenting with warm grain salads after experimenting with a cookbook in the Williams Sonoma Salad cookbook. I made it for a friend and it was a huge hit. But, no matter how much I looked I could not find that recipe again. So, I decided to replicate what I remembered and follow a few other recipes to come up with this. It took me a half a dozen tries to perfect it. It seems simple - so why so many tries? I got a little crazy with the dressing, adding various herbs, even olive juice and more vinegar. That gave me a sloppy, juicy salad. Yuck! Then, I roasted the cherry tomatoes first. They were okay - the extra step did not add to the dish too much. Then, I dry roasted the farro - which was fine, but not amazing. I settled on the recipe below. It's so good that my 17-year-old had two servings for dinner! The dressing is pure perfection. You can even make a batch and keep it handy for other salads. If you've never tried farro - now is the time. See my notes below. If you don't have farro, just substitute it for any grain or seed including brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc. Keep in mind that 1 cup of farro gives you about 3 cups cooked. 

Warm Farro Salad with Citrus Dressing
Yield: 4 cups

 2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked farro-3 cups cooked
2 cups tightly packed arugula or other greens (roughly chopped)
1 ear of corn, boiled or roasted, kernels removed
20 cherry tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 bell pepper any color, diced small
12 kalamata or black olives, sliced thin in rounds or lengthwise
¼ cup citrus dressing (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons feta cheese

1. In a roomy pot bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and farro. Stir, bring to a boil, and then simmer with the pot partially covered for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot completely, and let the pot sit on the same burner for 5 minutes. This helps the farro absorb any additional moisture and fluff up beautifully. This makes exactly 3 cups.

2. In a large bowl, add the arugula, corn, tomatoes, scallions, bell pepper, and olives. I like putting the greens on the bottom so that the warm farro helps wilt them. Use any combination of veggies, fresh or roasted.

3. Add the farro to the bowl and pat down. Let it sit for 2 minutes. This will work even if the farro is not warm, but the veggies will be slightly crunchy, and the greens won’t be wilted. It still tastes good. Use any combination of grains. I have used brown rice, quinoa, and even barley.

4. Pour the dressing over the farro and stir. Add the feta and serve immediately. This is the perfect amount of dressing for me – anymore and the salad gets soggy. But, add more if you prefer. Top with a boiled egg, salmon, grilled chicken, or tofu for a delicious and filling lunch.


Citrus Dressing
Yield: 2/3 cup

2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ cup citrus juice (1 medium orange, lemon, grapefruit, or combination)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Add all the ingredients except the oil to a blender and process until completely smooth.

2. While the blender is still running, add the olive oil and continue to process until smooth and silky. Use immediately or store in the fridge in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, freeze in ice-cube trays, store for up to three months, and pull out and use as needed.

Farro: Considered an ancient grain, farro is a a high-protein, high fiber whole-wheat grain that is extremely nutritious. A 1/4 cup of cooked farro has 140 calories, 6 grams protein, 30 grams of carbs, 5 grams fiber, and 1 gram of fat. It does have gluten but it has been largely unchanged over the last hundred years or so, unlike modern wheat. It has a slightly chewy texture after cooking - similar to barley, which makes it delicious as a base for a salad or in soups. When you purchase farro keep in mind the box will typically say PEARLED. It takes less time to cook because it has less bran and no husk - so less nutrients. Try to look for longer-cooking farro because like brown rice versus white it will be packed with the most nutrition. I use a 1 cup farro to 4 cups water ratio and add 1 teaspoon salt. I don't soak it, but you can. (if you do, cut down the cook time by 10 minutes) I simmer it like rice for 20 to 30 minutes depending on if it is pearled or not. I then turn the heat off and put the lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes to really absorb the water. Then, I drain it. If you want it more chewy, just drain right after cooking. 

BACKSTORY: There is always a backstory to every recipe and this one is no different. These notes may help you as you navigate making this salad and variations of it. GREENS: I began with arugula, but I left it large and leafy in my first batch. That was a mistake, because when I mixed the salad it was hard to eat. Be sure to roughly chop your greens in this salad. You can use anything including micro greens, spinach, and kale. I found that baby arugula worked really well. TOMATOES: I began with a regular tomato diced. It just did not have enough flavor. The cherry tomatoes pack a good flavor punch and they look beautiful in the salad. Instead of just slicing them in half, I quartered them. This meant that they mixed better in the salad. I was really happy with the size. I also tried roasted them on the stovetop first, but it was really just okay - not great. So, I decided to keep the tomatoes fresh and vibrant. 

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