Love a hearty, healthy, salad that's bursting with bright, fresh flavor? This Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad is a meal on its own or a great side!
We're crazy about this Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad and think you're going to love it too! It's loaded with fresh, healthy veggies and whole grains and can be enjoyed as a fabulous vegetarian meal or as a wonderful side for grilled, roasted or pan-seared entrees.
This salad would also be wonderful for potlucks, picnics, parties... any type of get-together with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. I don't know about you, but I LOVE to see a fresh, delicious salad at a potluck or picnic in the midst of the array of high-carb, high-calorie, generally not-super-healthy options.
Roasting brings out fabulous flavor
Although cherry and grape tomatoes are generally pretty sweet and tasty all year long, a stint in the oven with a splash of olive oil works delicious magic. As the tomatoes are roasted the juices are concentrated and caramelized, the flavor is intensified and good tomatoes are transformed to great.
Lots of fresh veggies
In addition to roasted cherry tomatoes, this Herbed Mediterranean Farro Salad also boasts diced bell pepper, red onion, crunchy cucumber and a plethora of finely chopped fresh herbs.
Super simple dressing
The fresh, delicious dressing for this Mediterranean Farro Salad pairs perfectly with the farro, veggies and herbs, but couldn't be easier. Just add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well combined. Or even easier, throw it all in a jar and shake, shake, shake. That's it!
Let's talk a bit about farro as it can be a little confusing. Farro is a delicious ancient grain that's loaded with protein and fiber-packed, as well as being rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Farro is one of the “good carbs” that can help prevent blood sugar spikes in diabetics and can help lower cholesterol levels. Farro has a delicious "nutty flavor" and a nice chewy texture when cooked.
- There are actually three types of farro. The name farro refers to three different wheat-derived grains, einkorn, emmer and spelt. The type you will find at your local grocery store depends on where you live in the world. Almost all of the farro that’s grown and sold in the U.S. is emmer (aka farro medio). In Italy, most of the farro consumed is either emmer or spelt (aka farro grande) and in Germany, Switzerland and southern France it’s einkorn (aka farro piccolo). All three of these types of farro will work in this Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad recipe, however, the cooking time may be a bit different. I’ll explain more about that below.
- To make things even more confusing, farro comes prepared in three different ways:
- Whole-grain farro is totally unrefined. It needs to be soaked overnight before cooking and takes 40-45 minutes to cook.
- Semi-pearled farro has a portion of the outer bran layer removed. It doesn’t need to be soaked and takes anywhere between 20-30 minutes to cook.
- Pearled farro has the outer bran layer removed. Some of the fiber and nutrients are lost by removing the bran layer, but it still has plenty of great nutrition and is a good choice if you’re short on time. It’s done in roughly 10 minutes.
- What’s the best way to cook farro?
- Although there are different ways to cook farro, I always use the pasta method for no-fail results. The pasta method simply means you bring a large pot of salted water (or in this recipe, chicken broth and apple juice) to a rapid boil, add the farro and cook until it’s al dente. Once it’s cooked, drain the farro through a sieve and you’re good to go. I often cook a large pot of farro, drizzle it lightly with olive oil then refrigerate it to use for salads, soups and meals like this Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad.
- Due to the different types and preparations mentioned above, cooking times and methods for farro can greatly vary. However, if you use the pasta method and follow the cooking time indicated on the package and you’ll have perfectly cooked farro every time!
This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, but after the photoshoot for this Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad, we offered it to some workers who are building a garden shed out back for Scott. They had their own lunches but we thought they might like to sample it.
The platter came back clean as a whistle! They LOVED it and have been asking when the recipe will show up on the blog. I think your family, friends, and guests will love it too. And when they request the recipe, just send them to The Café!
Cafe Tips for making this Chopped Mediterranean Farro Salad
- Farro is available in most larger grocery stores in the same area you find rice and other grains like quinoa. I’ve found it at my local grocery store, at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Super Target. Whole Foods and other health food stores often carry it in bulk.
- I really like the 10-minute Farro from Trader Joe's. It's reasonably priced, super quick and easy to make.
- If you enjoy an easy lunch that's ready to go when hunger strikes, this salad keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. That makes it perfect for school or work lunches and quick meals on the run.
- You might wonder about using apple juice and chicken broth as the cooking liquid in this recipe. The apple juice brings out a hint of sweetness while the chicken broth adds a ton of flavor. A few bay leaves in the liquid add another layer of flavor. Don't skip any of these!
- There are LOTS of chopped veggies in this recipe; red onion, peppers and cucumbers. To save a ton of time, I use my Vidalia Chop Wizard to dice them up in minutes. I can't tell you how much I love this little kitchen workhorse. It's reasonably priced, has two different size chopping grates and is dishwasher safe. Every few years I replace mine but the time it saves is so well worth it! There are bigger, fancier models but I haven't found that they're any better than this basic one and they're not as easy to store.
- The recipe calls for 1 cup of fresh herbs. I really like the flavors of dill and basil in this recipe and use about ½ cup of each. Sometimes I throw in a little chopped mint too... delish!
- To sum up the directions for cooking farro, simply bring the chicken broth and apple juice to boil. Check the cooking time on the package of farro that you're using. Cook for that amount of time, adding a little water if the liquid level gets low. Once the farro is cooked, drain it and you're ready to roll.
- Most of this Mediterranean Farro Salad can be prepped ahead.
- Cook the farro early in the day or up to two days in advance.
- Make the dressing one to two days ahead. Give it a good shake before using it.
- Roast the tomatoes early in the day and refrigerate them after cooling.
- Chop up the veggies a few hours in advance and refrigerate.
Thought for the day:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups apple juice
- 2 medium-size bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt most of this will be drained off
- 2 cups dry farro
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 medium clove garlic finely minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 medium bell pepper diced small (any color OR use 10-12 mini bell peppers in a variety of hues - so pretty!)
- 1 medium seedless cucumber or 4 medium-size mini seedless cucumbers diced small
- ½ medium red onion diced small
- ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives halved
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs I like to use about ½ basil and ½ dill - sometimes I throw a little mint in too. Use whatever you really like.
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup feta cheese cubed or crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper with edges extending over the edges of the pan.
Combine the oil, sugar, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and pepper in medium-size bowl and stir. Add the tomatoes and gently stir to coat. Tip the tomatoes out onto the prepared pan and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until most of the juice has been evaporated. Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
While the tomatoes are roasting prepare the farro.
While the tomatoes are roasting prepare the farro. Combine the chicken broth, apple juice, bay leaves and kosher salt in a medium-large pot and bring to a boil. Add the farro and cook for the time indicated on the farro package (see notes on types of farro in the post above). If the liquid level gets low, add some water to keep liquid above the farro.
When the farro is done, drain it well, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and stir. Set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Shake again before adding to the salad.
Combine the cooked and drained farro with all of the diced veggies, half of the olives, the herbs and half of the crumbled Feta. Stir to combine. Add 3-4 tablespoon of the dressing and stir again. Taste and add more salt and more dressing, if desired.
Gently stir in half of the tomatoes then transfer the farro mixture to a serving platter or bowl. Top with the remaining tomatoes, olives, Feta and the pine nuts. Garnish with additional fresh herbs sprigs and/or leaves, if desired.