I don’t know about you, but I think that quinoa becoming a mainstream food set off a grain revolution in America. Cooks everywhere started experimenting with all kinds of cereal grains once the general population was open to new varieties of carbohydrates. It seems like rice and wheat were the dominant grains for a long time, but once quinoa got introduced, it’s not uncommon to see millet, barley, teff, freekeh, wild rice, and farro in grocery stores and restaurants.
I think that farro is the perfect variety of grain to try if you’re interested in branching out from pasta because it’s an Italian relative of wheat that’s mild in flavor and easy to cook. Like pasta, it cooks in boiling salted water until al dente—no rinsing, soaking, or toasting necessary—and it has the added benefit of being a whole grain.
Aside from cooking farro into a farrotto, I also love using it to make a hearty side salad for potlucks and lunches. Its nutty flavor needs a bright, acidic dressing to counterbalance the earthiness, a few vegetables for textural contrast, and something with a little fat, like cheese or toasted nuts to complete the dish. Here, I tossed the cooked farro with some blanched green beans (just throw them in the same cooking water as the farro until bright green), oven roasted cherry tomatoes, and a creamy goat cheese. A little red wine vinaigrette ties the whole thing together.
I loved how all of the colors complemented one another to make the dish visually appealing, and the sweetness from the roasted tomatoes and the tang from the goat cheese made sure there was something exciting in every bite. Farro salads can be served warm or at room temperature, making this recipe the perfect make-ahead summer dish.
Farro with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
1 lb cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup semi-pearled farro
4 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F and place the cherry tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, then roast for 20-25 minutes until the skins have shriveled and the juices have been released, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
- Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Add the farro and cook for 15-20 minutes until al dente—the cooking time will vary slightly depending on the brand of farro that you use. Remove the cooked farro from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, until bright green. Drain the green beans and place them in the bowl with the farro. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and the crumbled goat cheese to the bowl with the farro.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon of sea salt, red wine vinegar, and the pepper. Pour the dressing over the farro mixture and toss gently to combine, then adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.