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, divided
large shallots (or 1 sweet onion), finely chopped
low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
red wine vinegar
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
large English (hothouse) cucumber, diced
finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and toast, stirring to coat each grain, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain 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 cooking liquid left, strain it out.
Transfer the farro to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add the vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil as needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Possible add-ins: Add crumbled feta or goat cheese; pickled shallots, red onions, or corn; chopped mint or dill.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.