Have You Tried Farro?
As much as I love to cook, the middle of the day on weekdays feels like "get it done" time. Stopping to cook during those precious hours I have the house to myself feels impossible if I want to get through my to do list.
And on the days I work outside of the house all day, it can require even more effort to pack myself (and my husband and the girls) a healthy lunch before 7:30am.
Regardless of your situation, we all know the effects of poor lunch choices -- whether it's grazing in your own kitchen or opting for that $12 sandwich and fries. These can leave us feeling too full, tired, regretful or so famished that we overdo it at dinnertime (the worst time of the day to eat a large meal!). Why didn't we plan better?
Whole grain salads are a great solution to both of these scenarios. Because you can make them at night or on the weekend and have servings ready to eat -- or to go -- in just minutes during the week.
Farro is the Italian name for an ancient type of hard wheat called emmer. It has a pleasant nutty flavor and satisfying chewy texture. It's ideal for salads such as this that can safely store in the refrigerator for several days (or until you eat it all, whichever comes first). Cooking times vary for farro, so check the package label for the directions. Most are 30 minutes or less, especially if you soak them overnight first (which is recommended). You want the farro to have a chewy texture for salad, not soft as you'd like in a soup.
While farro is lower in gluten than commercial wheat and may be tolerated by some who are gluten sensitive, it shouldn't be consumed by celiacs or those with gluten allergies. To make this recipe gluten-free, I'd recommend substituting 3 cups of cooked brown basmati rice or quinoa for the farro.
Farro Salad with Sweet Lemon Miso Dressing Serves 4
1 bunch asparagus salt & pepper, to taste 3 cups cooked farro 1 c frozen peas (defrosted) 1 15 oz can navy beans 3-4 radishes, thinly sliced 2 TB fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
Dressing ingredients juice from 1 lemon (approximately 1 TB + 1 tsp) 1 TB sweet white miso 2 TB extra virgin olive oil 2 TB water 1 TB maple syrup or brown rice syrup 2 scallions, chopped
4-6 cups mixed spring greens or romaine hearts, for serving (optional) 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425F. Rinse the asparagus and snap the woody ends off. Without drying, lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet and season with a little sea salt and pepper.
Drain and rinse the beans. Combine in a bowl with the farro, peas, radishes and dill.
Roast the asparagus for 7 minutes. Take out of the oven and set out to cool.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously.
Chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Add to the salad bowl. Pour about half the dressing onto the salad and mix gently. Taste and add more dressing as desired.
Optional: Heat a small skillet over a medium flame and add the walnuts. Shake the pan occasionally and do not walk away or answer the phone. They can quickly burn. When fragrant, turn off the flame.
Serve a scoop of the farro salad over a bed of mixed greens or chopped romaine hearts and top with 1-2 TB of the toasted walnut pieces.
To store for another lunch, keep the farro salad, greens and walnuts refrigerated separately and combine them just before serving.