Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans, and Peas

While I was at Whole Foods recently, I picked up an ingredient that I have wanted to cook with for a while but haven't been able to find. This special ingredient is called farro, which is an ancient grain related to wheat. I had never had it before but I had seen it cooked with on Food Network and it looked like a great alternative to other grains. I looked up a lot of ways to cook this grain, and I chose the directions that would make the final result chewy and not soft and mealy---perfect for soaking up a vinaigrette in a salad. I used a lot of sweet vegetables: grape tomatoes and peas. I also chose another ingredient that is in season and is probably my favorite vegetable, green beans. Because of all these sweet vegetables, I made a tangy dressing that the farro could soak up as it sat in the fridge. I love brown rice for it's nutty flavor, and farro is very similar. I love how big and fluffy the grains get after cooking and they have a great chewy texture. If you can't find farro, there are a lot of substitutes: brown and wild rice, barley, orzo, and Israeli couscous would all be great substitutes, you'll just have to adjust the liquid-to-grain ratio as well as cooking time. This recipe is a great change from the usual pasta salad at a picnic or barbeque.

Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans, and Peas
Printable Recipe

1 cup farro
2 2/3 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups cut green beans, fresh or thawed frozen
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
2 tbsp chopped basil

For the dressing:

1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and cook, covered, on low heat for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork after cooking.
2. Meanwhile, combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, honey or agave nectar, and oil in the bottom of the salad boil; whisk to combine.
3. If using fresh green beans, steam them in a vegetable steamer until tender or blanch them: add the beans to a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. One the beans are done steaming or boiling, immediately add them to ice water to stop the cooking process.
4. Add the cooked farro to the dressing and toss. Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the green beans, tomatoes, peas, and basil. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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