This farro salad is texturally and structurally inspired by tabouleh that has been made with bulgur. Comparable to bulgur and oats, farro has a pleasantly chewy texture that holds up well in hardy salads. I love the satisfying crunch of raw cabbage and this recipe includes green cabbage and shredded baby bok choy. For a colourful twist, try making this farro salad with red cabbage, thinly sliced red peppers, and pomegranate seeds in place of the green pistachios.
I like to serve this farro salad with a dollop of Greek yogurt and extra crushed pistachios. The tangy yogurt pairs seamlessly with the nutty astringency of the za’atar and the bright citrus flavours of the orange juice.
How to cook farro for salads
It’s easy to over- or undercook farro if this grain is a new addition to your pantry. The texture you’re aiming for is similar to that of steel cut oats or small pasta that has been cooked until al dente (meaning “to the tooth” or until pleasantly chewy).
- Although many grains benefit from a good soak before cooking, farro has such a short cooking time that I find it’s an unnecessary step. Sometimes if I have the time I’ll give farro a good rinse in a sieve or colander, but I usually cook it straight from the package.
- Cook farro in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water for 20-30 minutes, tasting frequently after the 20 minute mark. The length of time it takes to cook farro depends on its size and how long its been sitting in your pantry.
- Drain the farro in a sieve or colander and fluff up with a fork. For the fluffiest farro in the shortest amount of time, spread the cooked farro in a single layer on a clean tea towel, roll up, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
How to store farro
- If you’re planning on storing farro for a couple of months it can be stored in an airtight container away from direct light or heat. I often buy it in large amounts and store it in my freezer for up to a year (this prevents farro from turning rancid).
- Cooked farro can be made in large batches and stored in a lidded container for use throughout the week (or portion them out into individual serving sizes. Farro can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
Other uses for cooked farro
- Use farro in place of barley or rice in soups, stews, and gratins.
- Add a 1/2 cup of cooked farro to the bottom layer of jar salads; farro is hardy enough to withstand several days in an acidic vinaigrette.
- Reconstitute cooked farro with a small amount of dairy or non-dairy milk, apple juice, or water. Serve hot with your favourite oatmeal toppings.
- Substitute cold farro next time you’re planning on making fried rice. You’ll find that farro is perfectly suited to big flavours like ginger, sesame, garlic, chilies, kimchi, and other fermented condiments.
- Don’t throw away that overcooked farro! Instead, use it to make homemade veggie burgers or as the base ingredient in farro risotto.
Farro Salad with Cabbage and Pistachios
- 1/2 cup dried farro
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage
- 2 cups shredded baby bok choy
- 1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers cut into half moons
- 1 bunch scallions (pale green parts only) thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios smashed using the flat edge of a knife
Orange Juice Vinaigrette
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. za’atar
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch kosher or sea salt (to taste)
- 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- 1 dollop Greek yogurt (per person)
- To cook the farro bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the farro and cook for 20-30 minutes (taste every few minutes after the 20 minute mark). Once the farro is soft but still chewy, drain in a colander and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
- In a large bowl toss together the cabbage, baby bok choy, cucumbers, scallions, and pistachios.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together with a fork or small wish. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake until completely emulsified.
- Add the room temperature farro to the cabbage salad, using kitchen tongs to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing until the cabbage is lightly coated (you might have leftovers).
- Serve the farro and cabbage salad with an optional dollop of Greek yogurt and extra smashed pistachios.
Beck has been a steady thing in my life since I was a teenager. For all those times when I’m not listening to Beck, I always feel right at home as soon as I dive back in. I remember having eighth grade sleepovers and crossing my fingers that Beck’s “New Pollution” would appear on late night Much Music (I didn’t have the highly coveted channel when I was growing up) and just being blown away by his larger than life—but somehow introverted—personality. In high school I had the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary on CD, it was one of the “free” albums I ordered from Columbia Music House along with Bjork, Tricky, and Space Hog (as an aside, is Columbia House still a thing?). It’s an unsurprisingly good soundtrack (the Trainspotting soundtrack was, after all, impeccable) but this song stood out from the rest and I listened to it over and over and over again. It has an equally great music video, which I hope you enjoy in all its beautiful Beck glory.
Beck – Deadweight