Recipe Review

Ina Garten Shared the Recipe for Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad and It’s the Perfect Post-Holidays Meal

published Jan 7, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Getty Images, Graphic: Kitchn

If you spent your November and December eating like I did, then you might find yourself simply googling the words “good,” “salad,” and “help.” No regrets (all those cookies were delicious!), but it’s time for a change. And if you ask me, there’s nothing like the stark light of a new year to make you rethink your eating choices.

As always, Ina Garten is here to save the day. She dropped an unglamorous but delicious-looking snapshot of a farro salad in her Instagram feed, saying “Post holiday excess, I’m making lighter dinners for us this month but this Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad is so delicious and satisfying that no one minds!” The salad looks hearty and tasty enough that I completely believe her.

The colorful dish is titled Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad, and it is so-named after the New York City restaurant Charlie Bird. Some version of the salad is always on the menu thanks to its incredible popularity — you’ll find the recipe on the New York Times website, Epicurious, Food Network, and more. The dish contains cooked farro, arugula, tomatoes, radishes, herbs, Parmesan cheese, pistachios, and a simple dressing.

While the salad looks tasty, you might be wondering what makes it so special. There are a few techniques Chef Ryan Hardy uses to make this a salad worth posting about:

  1. Cook the farro in apple cider. The farro is the base of the salad, but if you simply cook it in water then you’re going to end up with a ho-hum dish. Use a flavorful liquid to replace part of the water and along with bay leaves and plenty of salt, you’ll have unforgettable farro.
  2. Use good olive oil. The dressing is a simple lemon vinaigrette, so the quality of the oil is going to make a big difference here. If you’ve got a special bottle you save for drizzling and nice salads, use it!
  3. Don’t forget the nuts and cheese. I know it’s January, but live a little. Parmesan and pistachios add protein and richness, making the dish feel like a treat. I imagine you could also change these up a bit, swapping for Pecorino — or even goat cheese — and toasted almonds or pecans.
  4. Change up the veggies. The mix of crunchy radishes, juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs, and arugula can’t be beat, but you can always mix things up. The current iteration on the Charlie Bird menu includes butternut squash, making it ideal for winter. Play around with the herbs and vegetables to take this salad from season to season.

Once again, Ina has me inspired. I’m adding farro to my grocery list as we speak, and plan to try out a few different versions featuring seasonal ingredients. Maybe I’ll try swapping the tomatoes for winter citrus? Oh boy. Get the Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad recipe here.