Here's a delicious and versatile recipe to add to your summer rotation: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and loads of basil are tossed with hearty and healthful farro to create a perfect pairing for any time of day.
I discovered farro by happy accident: I was testing recipes for a print publication and one of them just so happened to be a farro dish. I was unfamiliar with the ancient grain, but fell in love at first bite. Now it is a staple in my house — it can go from being a rich risotto to an all-purpose salad or side dish in the blink of an eye!
This is a really simple recipe that manages to pack in lots of flavor. It pairs equally well with fish, chicken, or pork, but it is also substantial enough to stand on its own. I love the soft crunchiness of the farro as well as its complex, nutty taste. To be honest, cucumber is not normally a favorite ingredient of mine, but it really works in this salad. Don't skimp on the basil, either; it's what brings everything together in the end.
This salad is quite adaptable to your taste, so don't be afraid to use up ingredients in your fridge. Crumbled goat cheese or feta would be a nice addition, as would pickled shallots, onions, or corn. Any mix of herbs can work — think mint, Italian parsley, or even some dill.
Summer Farro Salad with Tomato, Cucumber & Basil
Serves 4 to 6
Olive oil, for cooking
2 large shallots (or 1 sweet onion), finely chopped
2 cups farro (uncooked)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 large English (hothouse) cucumber, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and cook, stirring to coat each grain, 1 to 2 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until farro is soft but still chewy in the center, about 12 minutes. (If there is more than a tablespoon or two of leftover stock, strain it out.)
Cool the farro to room temperature. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil, and stir to combine. Fold in tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. Season with salt and pepper, and adjust vinegar and oil amounts to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Possible add-ins: Crumbled feta or goat cheese; pickled shallots, red onions, or corn; chopped mint or dill.
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)