I first came up with this delicious salad concoction this fall when I had dinner at a friends house. We paired it with some pan-fried white fish, but the salad was definitely the star of the meal.
I am staying with my family in New York this week to celebrate Christmas. Per tradition, my newly-married friends KM2 and Rad joined us for my annual welcome-home meal. KM2 is a little picky when it comes to proteins, so my mother and I decided to make baked pesto chicken with breadcrumbs and a creamy pesto sauce (recipe to be featured in a separate post). I quickly offered to make my Farro salad as a side dish, which yet again turned out to be a big hit and went perfectly with the flavors in the chicken.
Farro Salad with Brussels Sprouts (serves 6)
- 1 cup pearled Farro, prepared as directed
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 1/2 lb baby Brussels Sprouts (if you can’t find baby, the regular kind is fine), trimmed and sliced thinly
- juice of 1 orange (blood, Navel, Valencia – any kind will do)
- 1 TB balsamic vinegar
- 2 TB olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a mini food-processor, combine orange juice and balsamic vinegar. With the motor running, add oil in a slow, steady drip. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
Prepare the Farro in a medium-sized pot. Use a little more than 3 cups of water for 1 cup of Farro (directions are on packaging). It takes just over 15 minutes to cook the Farro, so time accordingly.
Combine arugula, pine nuts and dried cranberries in a large salad bowl and set aside. If using regular Brussels sprouts, trim the ends and slice thinly crosswise. If using baby Brussels sprouts, you can just trim the ends and cut in half.
Meanwhile, heat 1 TB of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the onion and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add Brussels sprout slices, lower the heat to medium and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.
Taste the Farro to see if it’s cooked – it should be a little al dente. Drain the remaining water and add the Farro to the skillet with onions and sprouts, stir to combine and remove from heat.
Add the contents of the skillet to the salad bowl and toss to combine. Generously dress the salad with the orange vinaigrette and toss again. Serve immediately after dressing.
I’ve only ever served this as a side dish, so the wine pairings have varied based on the protein. I’ve had this with both a Sonoma Pinot Gris and a Côtes-du-Rhône, but I think that if you served this salad as a min dish it would go best with a German Reisling or an Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer (like the 2011 from Husch Vineyards). Both these wines are a little on the sweet side, which is a nice juxtaposition to the savoriness of the Brussels sprouts and the tartness of the orange vinaigrette.
Either as a side dish or a main salad, your dinner guests will be impressed with the unique combination of flavors in this hearty salad.