This Farro Salad Recipe is your spring in a bowl! Refreshing spring peas, asparagus & mint are just a few of the ingredients that provide the perfect match to the chewy texture of that ancient grain, farro. A light and refreshing spring salad perfect for this time of the year.
Spring. Renewal. Rebirth. Fresh. Clean. Green. Chirping birds. Tulips. Blossoms. Sunshine… and only a little bit of rain. Those are my thoughts this morning as I share this spring salad recipe with all of you.
We are well into spring but unfortunately the weather in Montreal has not been very spring-like!
We were still experiencing those “wet flurries” here, up until just a few days ago. Seems like the snow is finally over, though, as the weather this weekend has truly been beautiful so far.
I decided to make this spring salad to celebrate these rising temperatures, and to shout out a big “Welcome!” to spring.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about this Spring Salad recipe is the use of farro (pronounced FAHR-oh).
Once you get close and personal with this grain, you will quickly realize that it is extremely versatile: it can play a part in your breakfast bowls, in soups (I’m sure you’ve all heard of the infamous Tuscan Farro and Bean Soup), in a risotto-style dish and in salads.
I’ve already shared the perfect fall salad with this Warm Farro Salad, and today, I’ll be using this ancient grain to make this spring salad recipe.
What is farro?
Farro is a hulled wheat grain and it is extremely popular in Northern Italy.
It has its roots in Ancient Egypt and as a result it is often referred to as an ancient grain. Ancient only because it dates back to at least 10000 years ago.
This particular strain goes by the name of emmer wheat, but in my circles it is referred to as farro. For those of you that are interested in the details of this grain, I would invite you to consult this definition.
When purchasing farro, you have a couple of choices:
Whole grain farro: The germ and the bran of the whole grain are intact, as a result, the grains need an overnight soak just to soften up the grain. It can take up to 60 minutes to cook. On the plus side, this will result in a higher fiber, protein and iron content when compared to either the pearled or semi-pearled.
Semi-pearled farro: Only part of the bran is removed and as a result will cook faster when compared to the whole grain (30-40 minutes). No soaking is required.
Pearled farro: The germ and the bran are completely removed and will result in the quickest cooking time (20-30 minutes). Once again, no soaking is required, but as was mentioned, the trade-off is the nutritional benefits of the farro.
If you’ve ever had farro, you know that it has a very distinctive nutty flavor and a texture which is similar to barley, but with a little bit more of a chew.
I have chosen to combine this nutty flavored grain with crunchy peas and refreshing mint, two other foods that just scream out spring. You might have noticed I also sneaked in some asparagus, just because I love asparagus 🙂
This recipe for Minty Pea Farro Spring Salad comes together very easily once the farro is cooked.
Origins of the recipe for Minty Pea Farro Spring Salad:
When eating out in restaurants, I will always order farro when it’s on the menu. But truth be told, I had never made it at home. Not really sure why that was… perhaps the preconceived idea that it was a tricky grain to cook properly, until I learned from an expert…
A few years ago, my family and I were visiting my cousin Tina, who lives in the beautiful city of Arezzo in Tuscany. It was then that Tina showed me how to make farro, and then that I realized how quickly a salad like this could come together! I absolutely fell in love with all of the history and the character of Arezzo, by the way, and I will be forever grateful to my cousin for showing me how easy and truly versatile this wonderful grain can be. Thanks Tina!
Farro can easily be found in Italian specialty grocery stores in and around large cities or even online. I am told it is also available at Trader Joe’s.
This light and refreshing spring salad recipe takes advantage of the seasonal produce available during this time of the year.
Farro Salad Recipe
For the salad:
- 1 cup farro
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus steamed, cooled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup peas fresh, shelled
- 1 cup celery thinly sliced
- 1 cup fennel thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber diced
- 4 small tomatoes diced
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves fresh, chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
Mint Infusion :
- ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup mint leaves fresh, chopped
- ¼ cup lemon mint infusion
- 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra mint leaves for garnish
To make the salad:
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil.
- Stir in the farro, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the farro is al dente (time will vary from 30-60 minutes depending on the type of farro you have).
- Drain the water (if necessary) and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss together with the farro and allow to cool down.
- Toss together with the rest of the vegetables and herbs. Set aside.
- Combine the lemon juice and the mint leaves in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
- Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
- Strain in a small mixing bowl making sure to squeeze all the extract from the leaves (should yield about ¼ cup).
To make vinaigrette:
- Whisk all ingredients together with the infused lemon juice.
To assemble the salad:
- Toss the salad with 1/2-3/4 cup of mint vinaigrette.
- Garnish with mint leaves.