Here’s a crash course on Farro. An ancient grain, farro is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and has twice the fiber and protein of modern wheat. In addition, a carbohydrate in farro called cyanogenic glucosides has been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol, and help maintain blood sugar levels. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat, making it more easily digested. It has a satisfyingly chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste. It’s a versatile grain that can be used in breakfast dishes, salads, soups, and sides.
There are actually three types of farro – farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer), and farro grande (spelt). Emmer is the type most commonly found in the U.S. It’s a harder grain than einkorn and is often confused with spelt, an entirely different grain. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, then there’s whole farro, which retains all the grain’s nutrients but requires overnight soaking prior to cooking; semipearled, in which the part of the bran has been removed but still contains some fiber; or pearled, which takes the least time to cook but has no bran at all. If you take away nothing else from this lesson, just remember to pay attention to which type you buy and follow the package directions…or buy the prepared kind.
Anyway, back to the recipe! I got really excited about my prepared farro find, and since it was already cooked I thought it would be great for a quick side dish. This is also super healthy, (we’ve already talked about the health benefits of farro) with dark, leafy greens full of calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron just to name a few. Then you add in protein packed chickpeas, some dried cranberries for texture and sweetness, crumbled goat cheese for tang, and you have an impressive side dish that took no time to prepare! For the dressing, I put together a sweet, tangy citrus Dijon vinaigrette using ingredients I had in the house.
I will definitely be making this again because it’s a triple threat – quick, easy, and healthy. Plus, it’s like a salad and a side in one! I am also going to keep it in my back pocket for entertaining, because it’s delicious, elegant, and impressive!
Farro Salad with Citrus Dijon Vinaigrette
- 2 cups prepared farro, cooled
- 2 cups baby spinach/arugula mix
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
- 2 Tablespoons of crumbled goat cheese (or more if you like)
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
For the dressing:
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Juice of half a lemon
- Juice of half an orange
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola)
- 1 Tablespoon water
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a salad dressing shaker or jar with a lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. Combine the farro, cranberries, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Gently stir in the greens. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad (I only needed about half of what I had, but you can use more or less depending on how “saucy” you like it.) Top with scallions, cilantro, and goat cheese.