Farro is my all time favorite grain. That’s a bold statement considering how many grain options are available to us these days, but I use farro all the time-- in soups, as a stand in for rice (because honestly, I still burn the crap out of it), and especially in salads. I love its versatility, chewy texture, and forgiving nature (does anyone else struggle with rice?!). The salad I’m sharing today is a fresh, summery, substantial salad that’s packed full of vegetables. It’s a salad of textures-- crunchy zucchini, chewy farro, buttery pine nuts and creamy cubes of mozzarella. It’s delicious when just thrown together, it travels super well for picnics and lunches on the go, and it continues to get better in the refrigerator as the flavors meld. It’s easy, low key and fresh-- everything that a summer meal should be. I love the play of the briny olives and super intense roasted tomatoes off of the fresh mozzarella and basil. And I’m not always the biggest fan of zucchini, especially when cooked and verging on slimy, but these tiny raw cubes stay crunchy and absorb the flavors of the salad. It’s a win all around.
so how do you cook farro anyways?
My favorite way to cook farro is the same way you would pasta-- in a large pot of boiling salted water. When the grains are tender but still chewy, drain off the water and toss them in a little bit of olive oil until ready to use. If you’re looking for extra flavor, cook it in chicken stock with a few bay leaves tossed in for good measure.
Keep in mind that there are several types of farro on the market these days: 3 different varieties, each of which could be pearled, semi pearled or unpearled. That means there’s a wide range of cooking times, so it’s best to follow the package instructions on exactly how long your specific farro will need to cook.
notes on this farro salad:
go easy on the salt to begin with-- the olives and oven roasted tomatoes can bring a lot of salt to the salad
if you haven’t made the oven roasted tomatoes, feel free to sub in store bought oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
this is a great way to use leftover farro!
farro salad with zucchini, olives and roasted tomatoes
serves 6- 8
1 1/2 cups farro
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 small zucchini, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 20)
1/2 cup oven roasted tomatoes, sliced (you can use sun dried tomatoes in a pinch)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup basil, thinly sliced
In a large pot of simmering salted water, cook farro until grains are tender but chewy (follow directions on the package for exact cooking times). Drain, cool slightly, then transfer to a large bowl.
To make the dressing, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. When combined, dip a piece of zucchini into the dressing, taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.
Add zucchini, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, pine nuts and basil to bowl with farro. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve.
Salad can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled. Store in the refrigerator for four to five days.
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