Farro is an ancient grain that has a high content of protein, fiber, magnesium, vitamins, and amino acids. It has a nutty, almost earthy flavor, with a chewy texture making it ideal for soups, salads, and stuffing. Farro can be rather hard to find, but I was lucky enough to locate a bag in a health food store.
My first attempt at cooking with farro was back when I made Giada's Cheesy Baked Farro. It was okay, but I didn't love it. Since then I've been looking for another way to enjoy farro and I've finally found it. This Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad with Smoky Paprika Dressing from Yotam Ottolenghi is really delicious.
The farro is chewy and nutty and really holds up well to all the components of the salad (roasted red peppers, olives, green onion, and feta cheese). I wanted to make my salad more of a main course so I took a tip from my friend Joanne, at Eats Well With Others, and added beans to my salad. The addition of beans was genius, making the salad even more healthy and filling. My favorite part of the salad, however, was the smoky paprika dressing. The dressing was rather complex with a hint of smokiness from the paprika, a refreshing zing from the lemon juice, and a touch of sweetness from the honey. I felt like the dressing really brought everything together. Thanks to all the flavors and textures I found this salad very addictive.
Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad
Adapted from Plenty
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Juice of 1 medium lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus extra to garnish
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup farro
2 red bell peppers*
1 can cannellini beans, drained
10 pitted black olives, quartered lengthways
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme
3 green onions, sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
*Note: I'm all about quick and easy lately, so I bought a jar of roasted bell peppers instead of making them as directed below. Either option will work. It is entirely up to you.
To make the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. I like to make the dressing a few hours in advance if at all possible. The extra time allows the flavors to blend.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (you will need to use lots of water as the farro absorbs quite a bit). Add farro and simmer until tender. I noticed the farro took a between 40-45 minutes until it reached a tender but slighty chewy texture. Drain in a sieve, rinse under cold water and set aside.
To make the roasted red peppers: Preheat a grill pan to high. Use a small, sharp knife to cut around the stem of each bell pepper and lift it out with the seeds attached. Put the peppers on the grill pan and grill, turning them every now and then, until they are totally black on the outside; this will take 30 minutes or more. When ready, remove the pan from the heat and cover it with foil. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Tear them by hand into roughly 3/8-inch-wide slices. Note: I wanted my roasted bell peppers to be the same size as the farro so I diced them rather small.
Place the cooked farro in a large mixing bowl and add the peppers, olives, oregano or thyme, green onions and most of the feat, reserving some to finish. Pour over the dressing and gently mix everything together. Taste and add more salt, if you like.
To serve, pile up the salad on a plate or in a bowl and finish with the reserved feta and a sprinkle of paprika.
Note: Take care when dressing this salad. Depending on the juiciness of your lemon you may end up with a little more dressing than is needed for the salad. Add the dressing to taste, reserving some for later if you wish.
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