There are so many reasons to celebrate spring: the lengthening days, the warmer weather, the availability of many fresh vegetables and fruits, and of course, the desire for quick, healthy dishes that are not only pretty, but also pretty darn good for us. Enter the grain farro.
Farro is an ancient wheat grain that’s quickly being re-discovered by those in the know, looking for that special something that’s chock full of nutritional goodness. A quarter cup of cooked farro delivers only one gram of fat, five grams of fiber, six grams of protein, 20 percent of your RDA of Vitamin B3, 15 percent of your RDA of Magnesium and Zinc. Farro’ 34 grams of carbohydrates, with its low glycemic index, are known for their regulation of blood glucose, releases energy at a steady rate, and improves your sensitivity to insulin. Because it’s a whole grain, it’s full of antioxidants and polyphenols, compounds that are thought to give cardioprotective properties, including protection against stroke, diabetes and even some cancers. And unlike many plant-based foods, farro’s protein is a complete protein, providing a good amount of essential amino acids that beans just cannot supply.
So you don’t care about all that nutrition stuff. Farro just plain tastes great, crunchy and nutty and just begging to be combined with fresh veggies, or whatever animal-based protein you care to consume. Lately my palate has been very happy with vegetarian fare, and whipping up this minimal-cooking-required dish has satisfied my craving for crunchy and nutritious.
This is a dish you can prepare a bit ahead of serving. Pressed for time? Cook up the farro the evening before, along with a couple hard-boiled eggs, if you want a little protein boost. Or not. Your choice. Just follow the directions on the farro packaging, and toss both in the ‘fridge after cooking.
I was in the mood for lots of color and crunch, so the day after I cooked my farro (and refrigerated it overnight), I simply chopped up some colorful vegetables, including radishes, tomatoes and cucumber. I chose to not chop the hard-boil egg up as much as I would in a potato or macaroni-based salad. Season with salt to taste and plenty of freshly-ground pepper.
There’s no law that says these are the only raw veggies you can use. Certainly bell pepper of any color, olives, finely chopped carrot or celery would be perfectly comfortable alongside farro. Just to show you how versatile farro is, this spicy farro and black bean salad is a staple in my house throughout the summertime.
Using farro in a side dish or salad is a healthy alternative to the usual pasta, potato or rice. Served hot or cold, it’s a grain you can serve to those you love, and not worry about empty calories or questionable nutrition.
How would you sneak a healthy grain into your family’s diet? Are you willing to give a vegetarian (or vegan) dish a try?
Spring Vegetable Farro Salad Ingredients & Instructions
Spring Vegetable Farro Salad
- 1 cup farro, cooked according to the directions on the package
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Persian cucumber, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped pitted black olives
- 1/4 fresh basil leaves,
- cut into thin slivers
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
How to cook Spring Vegetable Farro Salad
- Drain the cooked farro and pour it into a large bowl. Add the radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, basil, and oil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the egg quarters among the plates, and serve.
Sat. Fat (grams)3.26