Cooking with Farro

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower / Farro Salad with Cucumbers & Chicory

I finally got around to trying the farro that I purchased awhile back from Trader Joe’s. The mood to cook something suddenly overcame me and I remembered the farro sitting in the pantry. Off to Pinterest I went and after scrolling through a bunch of recipes I hit on two that looked really tasty.

This was my first time cooking and tasting farro and if I had to describe it I’d say it’s a cross between barley and oats. Let me just say I’m not the biggest fan of barley. In my opinion barley has a strong, distinctive flavor that I’m not crazy about. The only time I’ll eat is is when it’s in a beef & barley soup and only then as a last resort.

Farro resembles barley in it’s shape and slight chewiness but has a more neutral, subtle nutty flavor like oats. If you like old-fashioned rolled oats I think you’ll dig farro.

These are the two recipes I settled on: Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower and Prosciutto and Farro + Kale Salad.

I didn’t have all of the ingredients that either recipe called for so I used them as jumping-off points and substituted whatever I had in my fridge and pantry and added in some extras that I thought would be tasty. Prosciutto and sunflower seeds aren’t things I usually have on hand so I subbed bacon and some toasted, chopped almonds instead. Kale’s also not a vegetable that I use often except in soups sometimes, so I swapped in chicory which is a bitter green like kale but with more crunch.

The prep work was rather time consuming. I had to saute the chicory with some garlic before adding it to one salad (I threw some onions into the pan too because I thought that would be tasty), the almonds had to be toasted and then roughly chopped, the cucumbers needed to be diced, my cranberries were a little too dry/hard so I soaked them in some hot water first to soften, the cauliflower and bacon had to be fried, and I decided to cut up some mozzarella and grapes just because. After that it was a matter of tossing all of the ingredients together and dressing them.

Salad prep: Bacon, Chicory, Fried Caulifower, and Toasted Almonds

Saute Chicory with Onion and Garlic

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower

Of the two salads I was the most excited about the one with the fried cauliflower but I ended up not caring for it much. It felt really heavy because of the fried ingredients; that’s why I added the green grapes but even then it still seemed too rich. The flavors also fell a little flat and needed something more punchy. If I had to do the recipe again I’d use a more aggressive dressing, like maybe a mustard-based vinaigrette, and I’d add an ingredient with some crunch. Frying the cauliflower and bacon beforehand didn’t really do much because they softened once they were tossed with the dressing. A crunchy vegetable, nuts or even seasoned croutons at the last minute would’ve been great.

Farro Salad with Cucumbers & Chicory

Farro Salad with Cucumbers & Chicory

Farro Salad with Cucumbers & Chicory

Between the two recipes the one with cucumbers and greens was my clear favorite and I’d make it again. I sauteed the chicory until the dark green leaves were slightly wilted and the stems tender crisp so they still had some crunch. I highly recommend adding toasted nuts; the almonds were really lovely and added some nice flavor and crunch. The dressing and cranberries gave the salad a slightly tart, slightly sweet balanced flavor. Overall, yum. Mozzarella was the only cheese I had that day so that’s what I used but I bet a stronger tasting cheese like feta would be good in this.

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower / Farro Salad with Cucumbers & Chicory

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