Farro Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette / by Chelsea Zwieg

Now that I have moved back to Wisconsin, I have the great pleasure of having my sister as my roommate. That's not sarcastic, she's the coolest. Casa de Abbey and Chelsea is built on a solid foundation of common loves including but not limited to s'mores ice cream, White Collar, The Bachelorette, Jimmy John's, the pitch perfect soundtrack and cheesy ABC family original movies. While we do love many of the same things, one thing we cannot agree on is mushrooms. She inexplicably and unforgivably has never liked them. And so, when I found myself home alone a few weeks back while she was gallivanting around the globe (aka, visiting Guatemala) I knew that I had to make Ina Garten's mushroom and farro soup while I had the chance. (While watching Julie and Juila, because movies about cooking are another point of contention).

Now you're probably wondering why this post isn't about mushroom and farro soup. Let me put it simply. It is July 13th. Some time in the midst of my soup making, as sweat was dripping down my face into a my giant pot of soup as my thermostat slowly crept toward 90, I realized that mushroom soup is really only appropriate in the middle of summer when you have a house-to-yourself-mushroom-eating-situation on your hand such as mine, and really, it's barely passable then. So I'll save that post for another season (but if you can't wait, the recipe is here and it was v v delicious). But my soup adventure did lead to something much more summery a few weeks later, in the form of a half full bag of leftover farro.

Farro is a grain, similar to quinoa, but a little larger with a chewy texture and nuttier flavor. Apparently it's got loads of health benefits, but what I really care about is that you can mix it together with any vegetables you have on hand, toss in some protein, drizzle on some dressing and you have the perfect summer lunch, no sweating into a pot of soup required. In this salad I mixed it with cucumbers and radishes for some crunch, cilantro for a little more flavor, shredded chicken and cherries because I can't walk past them in the grocery store without wanting to buy them ALL. I finished it off with some chunks of goat cheese (feta would work great too, if you're goat cheese adverse) and a bright, citrusy lemon herb vinaigrette. 

The best part of this salad is that it makes a giant batch, so if, like my sister and I, you live off of leftovers, this will keep you happy all week long. Just make sure to save a little farro for soup season, because as soon as the temperature dips back down I am going back for round two. I just might need to leave the mushrooms out. 

Farro Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette 

Serves 6-8

| Ingredients |

For the salad:

  • 2 cups pearled farro
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and sliced (halved if they're smaller, quartered if they're larger)
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (I baked 2 chicken breasts in the oven for this but you can use rotisserie chicken in a pinch, or whatever meat you have leftover from your weekend grilling. Anything goes.)
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro    

For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chives, finely chopped


| Instructions

  • Boil farro according to package directions. The cooking time will vary based on the variety of farro, but most pearled farro should fall in the 20-30 minute range. Whole grain farro will take much longer, so be careful when you're choosing which to buy. Drain and allow to cool completely. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk vinegar and lemon juice in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until fully combined. Stir in fresh herbs. Set aside. 
  • Once farro has cooled, toss with cucumber, radishes, cilantro, and shredded chicken. Stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. Mix in the cherries (do this last, so that your whole salad doesn't get stained red) and top with goat cheese crumbles.
  • Serve with herb vinaigrette. I like to leave it on the side and let guests pour as much or as little as they like. Plus, the leftovers keep much better if the dressing is left on the side.