Lemony Toasted Farro and Asparagus Salad is a delicious summer side dish or vegetarian entree salad, perfect for potlucks and cookouts. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
I don’t know what’s going on with me and grain salads right now, but people I am loving them. I think maybe they allow me to make one pot meals, which we all know I prefer, but room temperature to cold ones that are tasty on sweltering hot days–which oddly we had all through May. So I hope you guys are enjoying them because I have several more still to share.
Ready for a Skadi update? You know you want one! She was a little over twelve pounds when we got her and as of last Friday she is 11 weeks old and over twenty pounds. She refuses to stop playing in the watering bucket out back so we got her a dog pool, which she loves. I will try to have pictures of that next time. She is starting to rule the house, especially where food is concerned, which neither of the older dogs care about. She actually growled Skamp off of his own food the other day. It is driving me nuts because I just want Skamp and Roger to eat their food while she eats hers, but they are so uninterested in food that they just watch while she races around to all three food bowls and tries to eat from all of them.
Sammy says Skadi looks like the overlord of evil pleased with her wicked deeds in that pic on the left. Thoughts?
But back to grain salads! Particularly this Lemony Toasted Farro and Asparagus Salad, which is one of the best things I have eaten in a while. I am almost afraid to tell you it also uses Sicilian lemon vinegar, just like the Farro and Chickpea Salad. I guess the moral here is I really suggest you buy some. But I know that is annoying, so I will also say that the original recipe that I adapted from did not use any vinegar, so you could try leaving it out completely or you could try subbing white balsamic vinegar. Either way, let us know how it goes by leaving a comment so other people can benefit from your experimenting.
I found the basis of this recipe in Food52 Mighty Salads: 60 New Ways to Turn Salad into Dinner (Food52 Works); interestingly it is my first time cooking out of an ebook cookbook. While I still prefer turning the pages of a real cookbook (unlike fiction reading, where I strongly prefer the ease of an eReader), I have to admit it was pretty nifty being able to screenshot the ingredients when I went to the store to shop. However, it also means I cannot really report back on the cookbook as a whole. I can tell you it is the only Food52 cookbook that I do not own (in book form), and it is on my wishlist. But browsing it is just not fun for me in ebook form.
The thing that makes this Lemony Toasted Farro and Asparagus Salad genius is cutting the asparagus into 1/4-inch coins. This salad is for serious asparagus lovers because as a result of the prepping (the small “coins” of asparagus), the asparagus permeates every bite of the salad. And as you guys know, we are devoted to asparagus around here. Everyone loved this salad.
Adapted from Emily Connor, Food52.
- 6 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed, divided
- 1 1/2 cups semi pearled farro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 T garlic paste (or minced garlic)
- 1/2 t coarse Aleppo pepper flakes
- 2 bunches thin asparagus stalks, tough bottoms discarded, 1-inch tips cut off and the rest cut into 1/4-inch coins
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 1-2 T Sicilian lemon vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios (mine were roasted and salted)
- 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small cubes
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Heat 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan. When it is hot, add the farro and stir to toast the grains. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
Cover the farro with water by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes and then add a generous pinch of salt. Let continue cooking until the farro is cooked to taste, which for me is chewy-tender. It should take around 25 minutes total. Drain the farro when it is done and leave to cool a bit.
While the farro is cooking, make sure all of your veggies are prepped.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil with the butter in a large skillet. When it is hot, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, and add the garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Add another tablespoon of oil. Add the Aleppo pepper flakes and let them roast for a minute. Then add the asparagus spears and stir briefly. Then add the asparagus "coins" and continue cooking. Sauté until the asparagus is tender-crisp, another few minutes.
Add the drained farro to the asparagus-onion mixture (right in the pan is fine). Turn the heat off and add the remaining extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon vinegar. Toss to evenly coat with all ingredients. Add a turn or 2 of freshly ground black pepper.
Taste for more extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, lemon juice or lemon vinegar.
Remove the salad to a bowl to cool further, about 10 minutes. Mix in the chopped pistachios and tarragon. Garnish with feta cheese. The salad can be served immediately or it can cool to room temperature. We still enjoyed the leftovers the next day after chilling.
Looking for a Lemony Toasted Farro and Asparagus Salad collage to pin?