This hearty Italian farro and arugula salad is sure to become a new summer favorite.
Hearty, earthy farro mixed up with juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, flavorful red onions and olives, and peppery arugula is my dream salad. This Italian inspired salad is perfect for lunch or as a light dinner with a piece of crusty bread and hummus. Keep this one in mind for all your summer pot lucks or meal-prep days!
We are currently in Italy, and I am seeing farro salads on most menus. Most of the farro salads I’ve noticed here are simply mixed with chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It makes for a great take-away deli salad for a picnic or at home. The local grocery store here in the Chianti region where we are staying has pre-cooked farro in the refrigerated section, making things even easier. I’ve been adding scoops of farro to my salads and into minestrone soup when the girls came down with the sniffles this week.
What is Farro and How do I Cook it?
Those are questions I asked myself a few years ago. I first tried farro in a winter salad with roasted butternut squash and loved they heartiness it added. It reminded me a little of barley, which I happen to love in vegetable soups. It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor that’s oh so satisfying. Quinoa is a staple in my house, but farro is a welcome change.
Farro is an ancient grain that has been enjoyed in Italy for centuries, but it’s only gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years. It’s wonderful as a base for grain bowls, added to soups and salads, and used in place of rice in risotto. Farro does contain gluten, but the levels are much lower than in today’s wheat. Farro is a great source of plant based protein, fiber, and nutrients. According to Dr. Axe, eating whole grains like farro has numerous health benefits including weight control, immune support, and heart health.
Farro can be a little tricky to shop for, as there are different varieties. Whole grain farro must be soaked overnight and then cooked for half an hour, while the quick cooking farro I get at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods is done in only 10 minutes. You’ll just need to check the package and plan accordingly.
I like this farro salad dressed simply with balsamic or red wine vinegar and a splash of extra virgin olive oil. I’ve tried it with both vinegars and can’t decide which I prefer. Red wine vinegar results in a lighter, brighter, tangier flavor. Balsamic is lends a deeper, sweeter flavor and also leaves this salad a bit darker in color.
This recipe is so easy and delicious. Watch the short video to get the full experience.
Italian Farro Salad
- 1 cup dry farro
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 5 oz. arugula
- 1 cup fresh basil, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
- Cook farro in vegetable broth in a medium pot according to package directions. Cool.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, olives, arugula, basil, and cooled farro. Dress with olive oil and vinegar.
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