............... farro; a delicious, healthy grain that's been beloved for thousands of years but has just recently been "re-discovered". It's been found to have amazing health benefits, but it's also incredibly delicious.
I received a few packages of farro from Tuscan Fields , who were sponsors at a wonderful blogging conference (EatWriteRetreat) that we attended back in June. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it at first, but it didn't take much research to realize what a delightful ingredient I'd stumbled onto. Much of the world's farro is now days grown in Italy. It's often touted as "the perfect grain" and/or "the mother of all grains".
Farro is also known as a "smart carb": helping to maintain blood sugar and energy levels, along with lowering cholesterol. It has twice the protein and fiber of wheat and is rich in B vitamins along with magnesium. Top chefs all over the world are featuring farro in delicious soups, salads, risottos, curries, stews ................ you name it ................... farro is very versatile and just plain old fabulous!
With all the wonderful seasonal produce available right now, I decided to use my stash of farro in a delicious salad combined with flavorful grilled veggies. It's perfect for these warm, summer days as all the cooking's done on the grill except for the farro which takes about 30 minutes on the stove top and can be prepared early in the day.
I chose zucchini, mushrooms, peppers in various hues, red onion along with fresh corn for my farro salad, but feel free to choose any fresh seasonal veggies you find at the market. Eggplant, fennel, summer squash, and/or asparagus would also be wonderful ................ really, the sky's the limit here! The dressing adds another layer of flavor with fresh lemon juice, garlic, cumin, coriander and a touch of honey.
I'm not sure if I ever told you this, but I come from a large family; 3 sisters and 2 brothers. We all grew up helping with cooking and meal preparation. Consequently, I don't know how to "cook small". This recipe will feed a crowd but it can easily be cut in half. You decide, but keep in mind, the leftovers keep well and will make fabulous lunches all week long.
While being hearty enough for a stand alone meal, we also love this salad as a side for grilled chicken, pork or beef. I have a feeling, after the first bite, that you too will think you've found a new friend!
Grill-Roasted Summer Veggie & Farro Salad w/ Garlicky Lemon Vinaigrette|
Ingredients for the dressing:
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for the salad:
8 ounces, 1 cup farro, uncooked
2 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 medium zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 medium red onions, peeled, halved vertically and sliced in bite size wedges
12 ounces mushrooms, halved
3 medium bell peppers, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces (I used red, yellow and orange, but any colors are fine.)
3 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
½ cup, packed fresh herbs , coarsely chopped and toasted
fresh herb sprigs, for garnish
1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium size glass jar and shake well to incorporate all ingredients.
2. Place water, farro and salt in a medium size sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for approximately 25-30 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Uncover and drain, if there's any excess liquid. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir well. Set aside or refrigerate if prepared more than 2 hours in advance.
3. Place all veggies except corn in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the dressing and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place corn in a zip lock bag with 1 tablespoon of dressing. Turn corn in bag to coat with dressing.
4. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Spray a grill basket wit hocking spray and add all veggies except corn. Grill until slightly charred, stirring every few minutes. Remove from grill and set aside while grilling corn. Place corn directly on grill grates and grill for approximately 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally until slightly browned on all sides. Remove from grill, cool slightly, then cut kernels from cobs.
5. Combine faro, grilled veggies (including corn) and dressing in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Stir again and serve at room temperature.
Serves 6-8 as a main course salad, more as a side