What a great summer for our farmers’ markets and home gardens. With so many gorgeous vegetables available, I find myself craving them. Not being fussy (ha!), I’ll eat the just-picked vegetables raw, fermented, roasted, steamed, sautéed or all of the above. Most recently I’ve combined roasted beets, crisp cucumbers and plenty of mint, scallions and parsley with toothsome farro and toasted hazelnuts. Together they make a good-looking, taste-tempting Farro Beet Salad with Fresh Herbs and Hazelnuts.
This is the kind of salad you can enjoy for lunch, dinner, breakfast and any time in between. And, Farro Beet Salad stays delightfully crisp and delicious whether sitting in a picnic cooler, on a buffet table or packed in a lunchbox.
Oh so many ways to make this Farro Beet Salad recipe your own. If you think you don’t like beets, replace them with diced roasted carrots instead. Add richness to the salad with half an avocado and/or some crumbled goat or feta cheese. Replace the hazelnuts with toasted walnuts or almonds, pumpkin seeds or sunflowers. You want more vegetables? Grated jicama, summer squash or carrots and/or thinly sliced leaves of Swiss chard would be just the thing. Plus they’d add even more color, crunch and nutrients.
I require some help here. First I read that farro (FAR-roh) is the Italian name for emmer wheat, a non-hybridized, heirloom strain of hard wheat cultivated across the Mediterranean for millennia. Emmer served as a daily staple of the ancient Egyptians, where it became known as the wheat of the Pharaohs.
Then later I read in a New York Times article that “farro is not wheat, but a plant and grain all its own.” Oh boy, surely there’s something I’m missing. What’s your understanding?
Many gluten-sensitive people can enjoy farro because of its low gluten content. Though, if you’re gluten intolerant, farro is not for you. Gluten-free brown rice, quinoa and French lentils would all work well as a replacement for the farro in this salad.
Just for fun
Look what I pulled out of our tiny garden the other day. A fat carrot a full seven inches around. Surely the widest (but not the longest) carrot I’ve ever seen, let alone grown. Anyone grown a wider carrot?
With a little research, I’ve discovered that my wide carrot is less than miniscule compared to the world’s heaviest carrot. Take a look here for a good laugh.
Thank you Amelia Freer for inspiring this recipe.
Crisp, Crunchy, Versatile. Vegan.
- For a richer salad, add diced avocado and/or crumbled feta or goat cheese.
- Grated carrot, jicama or summer squash would add more vegetables, color and nutrients.
- Go gluten-free by replacing the farro with quinoa, brown rice or French green lentils.
- Serve Farro Beet Salad as a main dish or as a side salad.
- Preferring that the roasting beets not directly touch the aluminum foil, I’ve inserted a sheet of parchment paper between the beet and the foil.
Makes about 5 cups, 4-6 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe.
Active time 20 minutes
Total time 1 hour 35 minutes (including roasting the beets)
8 ounces beets
½ cup farro perlato or semi-perlato
1 1/3 cups water
Pinch of salt
Shallot Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon country style-mustard or Dijon
1 ½ tablespoons Lite seasoned rice vinegar
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dozen twists freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup hazelnuts
1 medium cucumber, quartered, seeded, sliced ¼ inch thick (2/3 cup)
1/3 cup thinly-sliced fresh mint
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup thinly-sliced scallions
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Wash the beet(s). Place a square of parchment paper on top of a square of aluminum foil. Place the beet(s) in the center. Wrap the beet(s) in the paper and foil. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Use a fork to test for tenderness. When the fork penetrates the beet(s) easily, remove from the oven. Unwrap and set aside to cool. Otherwise, rewrap and roast for another 15 minutes and test again.
- While the beet(s) are roasting, wash and drain the farro. Place 1 1/3 cups water in a medium saucepan with a large pinch of salt. Add the rinsed and drained farro. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the pan sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the dressing in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the diced shallots, mustard, vinegars and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Toast them in the same oven with the beet(s) for 5 minutes. Wrap the toasted hazelnuts in a kitchen towel. Let the nuts completely cool. Use your hands to rub the towel-enclosed hazelnuts together to remove their skins. Open the towel and discard the skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts. Set aside.
- Prepare the cucumber (peel if not organic), fresh mint, parsley and scallions.
- While the farro is sitting off the heat, whisk the olive oil into the salad dressing.
- Drain the farro, if necessary, before stirring it into the dressing.
- When the beet(s) are tender remove them from the foil. When cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove the skin. Cut the beet(s) into ¼-inch cubes. Gently toss the beet cubes in the dressing with the farro.
- When the farro/beet mixture is cool, stir in the remaining ingredients. Adjust the salt to taste.
- Serve as a main dish or as a side salad.