3 Whole Grain Summer Recipes | Sliders + Salad + Cookies
Chopped Summer Vegetable Salad with Farro, Yogurt and Za’atar
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Inspired by the juicy bulgur salads of the Mediterranean and Middle East, this chopped summer vegetable salad features farro. Known as emmer in English, farro (the Italian word) is a type of wheat with a particularly nutty taste and pleasing chewiness. The cooked grains soak up the dressing without becoming sticky or soft, and they give this salad enough heft to serve for lunch. With farro’s growing popularity, markets now carry several types. Look for lightly pearled farro (semi-perlato on Italian brands), which you can recognize by the slightly abraded appearance of the exterior, the bran layer. Whole, unpearled farro takes much longer to cook and doesn’t absorb the dressing as well.
For the salad:
- 1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 large clove garlic, grated or finely minced (see note)
- 1 tablespoon za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend)
- 1/2 pound cucumbers, preferably Persian, Japanese, or hothouse English variety
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and pale green parts only
- 1/2 cup loosely packed whole cilantro leaves (no stems)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1 large handful small arugula, watercress, or purslane leaves (no thick stems)
- 1/2 pound ripe but firm tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 1/2 large ripe but firm avocado, cut into 1/3-inch dice
For the garlic vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- Kosher or sea salt
Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium; skim off any surface foam. Cover partially, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the farro is al dente — fully cooked but still firm to the tooth — about 30 minutes. Drain well in a sieve, and then transfer to a large bowl.
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, and salt to taste.
Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons dressing over the farro, enough to coat it lightly, and toss well with a fork. Taste and add more salt or a splash of vinegar if needed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, and salt to taste. Make a bed of yogurt sauce on a large platter, using it all. Sprinkle the za’atar over the yogurt.
If the cucumbers have a thick or waxed skin, peel them; if not, then leave unpeeled. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise. If they have large seeds, scrape out the seeds with a small spoon. If the seeds are small, no need to remove. Cut the cucumber into 1/3-inch dice and add to the farro along with the green onions, cilantro, and mint. Add more dressing and toss gently to mix. Add the arugula, tomatoes, and avocado. Drizzle with the remainder of the dressing and toss gently to avoid breaking up the tomatoes and avocado. Taste for salt and vinegar.
Using your hands, mound the farro salad on top of the yogurt, leaving a visible border of yogurt. Serve immediately.
Note: Grating versus mincing garlic: I typically use a Microplane‚ a rasp-style grater available at kitchenware stores‚ when adding garlic to yogurt. You can also mince the garlic finely with a knife‚ but I find that grated garlic infuses the yogurt better. It practically dissolves‚ so you don’t perceive any little bits of garlic in the yogurt. However‚ for a dish with sautéed garlic‚ I prefer to mince it‚ as grated garlic produces too strong a flavor.
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