Monday, February 6, 2012

Balsamic Farro Salad with Arugula and Tomato

Everything old is new again... and on this Meatless Monday this old grain Farro is making a comeback.  Farro, the original grain from which all other grains derive, is delicious and healthy (low in calories, high in both protein and fiber), and easy to cook (add water and boil, just like rice). Farro fed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations for thousands of years until it was replaced by easier to grow and harvest varieties of common wheat. Its firm, but chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor make it versatile enough to go from salad to soup. Use it in the same way you would use rice, couscous or barley.  Try it in this salad, add it to your favorite soups or serve your next saucy dish over farro instead of rice.

This recipe was one of the menu items for a recent Mount Carmel Troop 19 Food and Wine Fundraiser in which I took part.  I think it's pretty safe to say that for most of the attendees, it was their first experience with farro and the recipe was a big hit.

Balsamic Farro Salad with Arugula and Tomato

1 cup Farro
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/ 2 cup quartered, pitted kalamata olives
1- 1/2 cups arugula
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

Combine farro, water and salt in 2-quart sauce pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes or until farro is tender but still has a bite.  Drain any remaining water and set aside to cool.  Once farro has cooled a bit, combine with remaining ingredients; toss with dressing.  Serve room temperature or chilled.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in bowl; mix well with a wire whisk.  Stir or shake well just before serving.

Time-saving tidbit:   Use 1/3 cup  of your favorite bottle balsamic dressing instead of making the vinaigrette.

Right now farro is available at upscale supermarkets like Whole Foods, Wegman's, and Giant Eagle Market District.  If you can't find it at your supermarket, try a local natural foods store or online at

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