With an abundance of vibrant green and nutrient-rich flat leaf and curly parsley still growing in our garden, I wanted to try something new. Leafing through Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem, I found my answer. Their Parsley & Barley Salad, a fall variation on tabouli, called for lots of parsley. They had even thought of calling their salad tabouli. Though after considering the emotions around tabouli, they thought not. As I made a number of changes to their recipe, it now has a new and grander name: Parsley Farro Salad with Red Pepper, Cashews & Feta.
This green, red and light brown salad has parsley, scallions, fresh lemon juice and olive oil in common with traditional tabouli. Though the sweet red pepper, toasted cashews, farro and spices create a significantly different and flavorsome salad of its own.
Farro (FAR-roh) is the Italian name for emmer wheat, a non-hybridized, heirloom strain of hard wheat widely cultivated across the Mediterranean for millennia. Known as the wheat of the Pharaohs, emmer served as a daily staple of the ancient Egyptians.
Despite emmer’s early popularity and its adaptability to poor soils, its low yield and the difficulty of milling it into flour (as the chaff doesn’t come off through threshing) paved the way for other strains of heirloom wheat to gain greater prominence.
Some gluten-sensitive individuals (like me) are able to enjoy farro because of its low gluten content and different gluten structure than regular wheat. Farro, however, is not recommended for those who are gluten intolerant. Gluten-free brown rice and quinoa work well as substitutions for farro.
I know it’s tempting not to buy allspice if it isn’t already in your spice drawer. I gave in to temptation, persuading myself instead to use the clove/cinnamon/nutmeg exchange for allspice that I read about online. No bueno. It took me two disappointing batches of salad before I realized that the “odd flavor” came from the ground cloves.
Then I purchased a small amount of allspice and made the salad once again. What a difference. Made with allspice, the flavor is well-rounded and balanced. Parsley Farro Salad emerged a winner.
In spite of its name to the contrary, allspice is a spice all its own. Actually it is the dried unripe berry of a tree native to Southern Mexico and Central America.
Related Recipes and links
- Farro Vegetable Stew
- Farro & Vegetable Salad with Lemon Cilantro Vinaigrette
- Tabouli Salad with Quinoa, Avocado & Feta
- Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Tabbouleh
Inspired by and adapted from a recipe in Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.
Parsley Farro Salad is delicious scooped into a leaf of baby romaine or butter lettuce. The lettuce leaves provide additional crisp texture and fresh taste to the salad.
You can easily substitute brown rice or quinoa in equal measure for the cooked farro.
Makes 5 cups; 3-4 servings as an entrée, Printer-Friendly Recipe 5-6 servings as a side salad
Start to Finish 1 hour
½ cup uncooked farro perlato or semi-perlatto, (1 2/3 cups cooked farro or another grain)
Marinade for the feta cheese
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh oregano, coarsely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaf)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
4 ounces feta cheese, cut or crumbled into ¾ inch pieces
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup cashew halves and pieces
4 cups tightly packed parsley leaves and fine stems
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (½ cup)
1 small red bell pepper cut into ¼-inch dice
- Bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the rinsed farro. When the water returns to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the farro sit in the covered pot for 5 minutes. Drain the farro of any excess cooking water. Place the farro in a large bowl to cool.
- Combine the ingredients for marinating the feta. Gently fold in the feta. Set aside at room temperature.
- Prepare the dressing: Place the crushed garlic in a small bowl along with the fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and allspice. Letting this mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the salad mellows the sharpness of the raw garlic.
- Toast the cashew pieces in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Dry the parsley leaves and fine stems well before finely chopping them in a food processor or by hand. Add to the bowl with the farro along with the diced pepper and thinly sliced scallions.
- When the cashews are cool, add them to the bowl with the farro.
- Stir the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil into the dressing. Gently toss it with the ingredients in the bowl. Fold in the marinated feta. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.