Stovetop: Warm Farro, Arugula Citrus Salad

July 11, 2022

Stovetop: Warm Farro, Arugula Citrus Salad
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 will add a link below). 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 the recipe below. It took me a half a dozen tries to perfect. 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 last night! 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 4 cups cooked. 


Warm Farro, Arugula Citrus Salad

4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup uncooked farro (makes 4 cups cooked)
2 cups arugula or other greens, roughly chopped in bite sized pieces
1 ear of corn, boiled or roasted, kernels removed
30 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced small 
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup citrus juice (orange, lemon, grapefruit, or combination)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise in half
2 tablespoons feta cheese

1. Heat the water over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the farro. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for between 20 and 30 minutes covered with a lid slightly ajar. When the farro is cooked through but still slightly chewy, turn the heat off, cover the pot completely, and leave the farro to sit for 5 minute. Then, drain the farro, place back in the pot, and cover to stay warm. 

2. In a deep bowl, add the arugula, corn, tomatoes, scallions, and bell pepper. Add the farro and pat down. Let this sit so that arugula and vegetables wilt slightly from the warm farro. I really like quartering the cherry tomatoes rather than just slicing them in half. 

3. Make the dressing. To a blender, add the garlic, citrus juice, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Blend until smooth. While processing, add the olive oil and continue to process until beautifully smooth and silky. 

4. Pour over the farro mixture. Stir well. 

5. Add the olives and then the feta. Serve as is or store in the fridge for a cold version. Eat as is or top with diced avocado, grilled chicken, or salmon. 

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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