As a graduate student, I have a limited budget and limited time to create wonderful, healthy meals. Thus, my eating routine is centered on family-sized portions of easy meals that can sit in the fridge for a week. After 4 weeks of eating chili, roasted chicken breasts, and rice and beans, I was bored. I longed for holiday break were my mom made wonderful, diverse meals every night. I needed to get out of my food funk, and fast!
While strolling through Wegman’s at an obscenely early hour on Saturday, I came across a product that I thought existed in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fairway markets. It was the mythical grain, FARRO!
I love farro because when combined with beans/lentils, it becomes a complete protein (hooray for Meatless Monday options!). It also has a very pleasing texture and structure, which is perfect for use as a cold salad base. Since cold salads can hang out in the fridge and require minimal reheating, they are a perfect dinner option for this busy grad student. My find allowed me to dump the chili fixings for the produce and Asian aisles of the store – it was time to get out of my dinnertime rut.
My mother has two signature farro salad recipes – one is a riff on a basic pasta salad and the other is a take on the classic wheatberry salad with dried cranberries. I love the “pasta salad” farro recipe (with its shredded bell pepper and green beans), but I decided to take my dish to the Far East and put an Asian spin on my dinner.
My Asian Farro Salad starts with a package of farro cooked according to the box (or the bag, whichever kind you have at your local store) directions.
While that was cooking, I cut up and steamed a ½ pound of broccoli (cut into small pieces) and a ¼ pound of green beans (I cut them in half). When they were cooked slightly and bright green, I dumped them into the biggest bowl I possessed.
A small side note – I recommend using a HUGE bowl for this. I have a small problem with underestimating the volume of farro when it is done cooking (it puffs up slightly), so it is better to have more room than less. And we continue on…
I julienned two bell peppers (minus a bit… cooking makes me hungry) and two carrots, tossing them into the bowl alongside the broccoli and the green beans. When the farro was done, I dumped that into the bowl too. The dressing is super simple and can be altered to your tastes. I do a ¼ of a cup of olive oil, a ⅛ of a cup of low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 clove of finely minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. Whisk vigorously and pour over the salad and toss thoroughly. I garnished my salad with some chopped scallions – chopped, roasted peanuts would also work well too!
Here is a picture (or several) of the final result!
Ready to eat!