Monday, April 8, 2013

Farro and Apple Salad

I introduced myself to farro recently. A smallish bag of pearled farro grains, in fact. I’m happy to say we’ve hit it off nicely and this is likely to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I suppose I’d have to describe cooked pearled farro grains as sort of a cross between wheat berries and barley in flavor and texture. The pearled farro took much less time to cook than wheat berries do, more like the time it takes to cook pearled barley. For busy cooks, that’s rather an advantage. I liked the texture, which is a bit chewier than barley, but not quite as chewy as wheat berries. It’s nicely nutty in flavor, although still quite mild like most cooked whole grains. That just means it can hold a place well in a flavorful dish like this salad I’ve been making with apples, craisins and cider vinaigrette.

This salad is extremely easy to toss together once the farro is cooked and cooled, and is, of course, open to endless variations. I liked the sweet-tart apple and craisin combination. The addition of something crunchy like nuts or seeds is also a nice compliment to the chewy grains and crisp apple. I use hulled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) because that’s what I was trying to use up from my pantry. Sunflower seeds or walnuts would probably also be nice.

I find that, except for really quite small variations in flavor and texture, cooked whole grains are pretty much interchangeable in many recipes. If you happen to have barley or wheat berries or rye berries on hand instead of farro, for instance, they’d be good in this salad, too. Or you could use a combination of grains (like I did in this salad).

I cooked up that whole bag of farro, divided up the cooked grains into portions appropriate for this salad (or others like it), and froze them for later use. You, of course, can do this with other grains, too, (to say nothing of beans). Thanks to this stream-lined make-ahead process, I’m on my second batch of this salad. All too often, it takes me a year or more to go back to a recipe. Farro and I are such good friends, however, that I think we’ll visit each other, whether in the form of this salad or some other dish, much more often. 


Farro and Apple Salad with Craisins
You could use another oil that you like in place of the sunflower oil, such as canola, olive or pumpkinseed. You could also use sunflower seeds or nuts in place of the pumpkin seeds.
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper (a few grinds from a pepper mill)
¼ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
3 cups cooked and cooled farro
1 medium apple, cored and finely chopped (I’ve been using Granny Smith)
¼ cup craisins
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

1. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, sunflower oil, and onion. Whisk together until well combined.

2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir until well coated with the dressing.

Makes about 6 servings. Refrigerate leftovers for a few days.


One year ago: Spinach-Chive Pesto


  1. Looks good! I've been making so many dinner salads lately, and a friend today served me a farro, apple, and pecan salad that was delicious. She said a similar one is served in the Microsoft cafeteria. Yours looks similar and good, I like the addition of the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.

  2. I'm hoping to make another grain and fruit salad later this week. I have cooked red quinoa and peaches in the refrigerator...we'll see how it goes!