This is a shatteringly bright way to use spring growth to tease flavor out of an ancient staple grain. Farro was a mainstay of the daily diet in ancient Rome. This salad is all dressed up with places to go with bright lemon juice, new radishes and sugary warm roasted grapes tempered by the allium flavor of roasted leeks, all supported by a hearty base of farro and baby kale. Thyme and garlic add their grace notes as a finishing touch. The fresher the ingredients, the better the flavor. You’re not really tied to any specific ingredients here, but these nestle together perfectly. I am definitely packing this one up for a picnic this weekend. I want to serve it with rilletes and pickled things, olives, coarse mustard and a bottle of rosé. Elegant and Hamptons-like.
I cannot believe that this time of year is back again, when eating for pleasure takes on a whole new meaning. The world feels full of life and glowing with possibility again. Time to check in on my friends’ gardens and try out all of the recipes I’ve been anticipating! I’ve got a list of things I can’t wait to make, like a broccoli coleslaw (I’m told it’s a thing now), ribs and cornbread, baked fries, all things for a summer cookout. So much. I must make a list.
The thing about spring that calls to me is that spring is a visual show that things in life can happen with minimal force or interference. It’s a show of organic growth. It’s tempered by the indifference of a really cold day or tempest-like downpours. A reminder of the fragility of the moment, but life persists. In winter, I feel like I have to wrangle everything to get things to work my way, from bulky clothing to pushing harder at work or in relationships. Something about spring grants freedom to ride out the season a little bit. Play hooky.
And when I do I’m bringing this salad with me. A one-bowl celebration of the season. The stuff of spring dreams with flavor and texture contrast that appeals to all of your senses. Happy Thursday!
Just one final note: For some reason in the past two days a ton of people are stopping by my “ajiaco bogotano” recipe from a Facebook address, but I have no idea who sent the party my way! If you’re one of the people who happened to drop in from there, please leave a comment and let me know who brought all the guests to the Colombian fiesta! I feel like I answered the door in slippers and seriously would have made more. I would at least like to have put on a little perfume 🙂
FARRO SALAD W/ ROASTED GRAPES & LEMON JUICE
- 2 cups dry farro
- 1 tsp salt
- juice of 3 lemons
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 c celery, sliced (you could substitute for cucumber, too)
- 6 or 7 radishes, thinly sliced
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 2 cups baby arugula or baby kale, chopped very finely
- 2-3 leeks, sliced vertically, chopped thinly, then roasted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups red grapes, halved and roasted
- salt to taste
Fill a large pot with 4.5 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, add the farro. Let cook for about 20 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. If it feels too hard, like with rice, add a little more water and bring back to a boil. It’ll be soft and chewy when it’s ready, with a little heft.
As the farro cooks, preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the leeks with olive oil and then roast for 15-20 minutes. When finished, raise the temperature to 450 F and drizzle the grapes in a small amount of and a pinch of salt and roast for about 7 or 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, being careful of the very hot, sugary juice.
In a small pan lightly sautee the garlic cloves in a little olive oil until translucent, about 2-3 minutes on low to medium heat. Be careful not to burn them.
In a large bowl, mix the farro with the lemon juice, garlic, celery and radish. Toss in the thyme and arugula and add the grapes last.