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June 11, 2019
This is about...
Summertime FARRO SALAD---YUM!
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        FARRO IS MY NEW OBSESSION. It's an ancient form of wheat, first originating in Italy back in the days of the Roman empire. Gaining popularity along with some other old-time grains like kamut and amaranth, farro has it's own unique nutty flavor and texture. Satisfyingly chewy, it's a great addition to any salad and keeps well. And, now with summer upon us, this salad, as well as variations on this theme, will be a welcome addition to any picnic.
        THIS WHOLE GRAIN IS A LESSER KNOWN RELATIVE TO IT'S MORE POPULAR COUSIN WHEAT, SO IT STILL HAS GLUTEN IN IT. But a lot of people with gluten sensitivities can eat this ancient version with no difficulties. ME INCLUDED.
        Just as easy as boiling a pot of rice, cooking up some farro is a no-brainer. JUST MAKE SURE TO GET THE PEARLED VERSION. For this recipe, the farro has been boiled in apple cider and bay leaves as opposed to water or broth for a sweet edge. Marinating it in some of the dressing while it's hot only makes the farro even more delicious.
        As with any salad, VARIATIONS ABOUND. And my take has alot more veggies in it. If you want the farro to be the star, cut back on the veggies by half. Feel free to switch out everything---oils, vinegars, nuts, veggies, herbs and cheeses. I've pretty much removed the recipe-haha! But you know what I mean. Follow this exactly, or just take it and run. -- make your own delicious creations from scratch adding this yummy grain. I'm giving you a basic template, but from there it's all up to you!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure you buy pearled farro, not the unpearled kind with the husk.
2. The farro will be tender but still be chewy when it's completely cooked. Just make sure it's not hard in the center.
3. You will probably need to drain any excess liquid off after it's completely cooked. Plus, though less likely, check about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, just in case you need to add more water, so it doesn't stick or burn.
4. Shake all of the dressing ingredients except the oil in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Then add the oil and shake again.
5. Make sure to stir about 1/2 of the dressing into the farro while it's still warm. Once the veggies and herbs are added, only add as much dressing as you want to taste. Just save any leftover for another salad.
6. Play with your food! Try different ingredients--oils, vinegars, juices, and whatever veggies and herbs are available, all summer long.

Summertime FARRO SALAD
(inspired by chef Ryan Hardy's recipe at Charlie Bird's restaurant, NYC)

1 cup pearled farro, about 6 ounces
1 cup apple cider, or juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon mild honey, optional
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2-2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
4 cups arugula leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler, divided
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachio nuts
Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional

Make the salad:
        In a medium saucepan, bring the farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 1/4 cups water to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, and cook uncovered until farro is tender but still firm, about 30 minutes.
        Meanwhile make the dressing. In a small canning jar with a tight fitting lid, shake together the lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Add the oil to the jar and shake until well combined.
        Check the farro at about 25 minutes to see if all the liquid has evaporated before it is done. Add a little more water if necessary. Alternatively, if there is still liquid in the pot, drain it off through a strainer and return to the pot. Discard the bay leaves.
        Stir about 1/2 of the dressing into the hot farro and let sit until cool.
        Transfer the cooled farro to a large salad bowl. Add the herbs, cherry tomatoes, and radishes. Lightly toss. Taste and add more dressing as needed. Just before serving, stir in the pistachios and half of the parmesan. Lightly toss to combine. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and some of the flaky sea salt, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.       YUM!
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