For a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal, you can’t miss with this Farro Salad with Asparagus and Feta. A perfect meatless meal, or even add chicken.
I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat more grains and beans. They’re hearty, healthy, and have lots of fiber. I don’t think there is such thing as too much fiber. And if there is, it’s so far from what I ever eat that I don’t think I need to worry about it. Grains and beans don’t have a whole lot of flavor by themselves, and therefore need help to become tasty.
Chickpeas are one of my favorite beans, and I eat them more than any other. I used to buy the canned chickpeas, but the liquid they come in has a slimy texture that is really kind of gross. I almost always buy dry chickpeas, soak them overnight, and then cook them in the pressure cooker. I’ve both undercooked and overcooked them, and neither result is a good one. When they are cooked properly, they still have a little bit of a bite, but the inside is nice and creamy.
It’s taken me a really long time to get used to eating grains. Most grains are very chewy and mealy, not good for someone like me who is a big texture eater. My first attempt at grains was with quinoa; I cooked them in water, and it tasted like wallpaper paste. It was several months before I made them again, and then cooked them in vegetable broth. What a huge difference that makes! The grains soak up the beautiful broth, and gives it such a wonderful flavor. Until about 9 months ago I didn’t even know what farro was. Then one day we were having lunch at a local restaurant, and their lunch special was a farro dish. I asked for a small sample and, to my huge surprise, I really liked it. So I bought a small bag and searched online for recipes.
A recipe that I’ve made several times but never posted before is Farro Salad with Asparagus and Feta.
This is such a flavorful and delicious dish. There is a lot of fiber between the farro and chickpeas, but it is still quite light tasting. I toast the farro before adding the broth, to bring out the nuttiness of the farro. The original recipe calls for the farro to be toasted in butter. I’ve done it both with and without and, honestly, don’t really think you need to add any fat before toasting. But when I do add it, I use Smart Balance spread to keep it lighter.
The original recipe calls for cooling the farro after cooking. However, I make this dish for lunch and don’t have time to wait for the farro to cool. And besides, if the rest of the ingredients in the dish are warm, then adding cold farro doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
After making this recipe a few times, I’ve added some of my own twists. I begin with lightly caramelizing onions; and then add the asparagus them to the onions and saute them so they retain that beautiful tender-crisp. I’ve also recently begun adding mushrooms to that saute. I also add both raw and roasted garlic to the saute for the last couple of minutes.
The absolute only drawback to this dish is its very savory and earthy, so about 15 minutes later I’m ready for something sweet. But let’s be honest…that’s a perfect excuse for a piece of chocolate! Farro Salad with Asparagus & Feta will continue to be high on my list of favorite dishes, especially when I’m eating cleaner and/or healthier.
Adapted from a recipe by Burp! Recipes
- 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup farro
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 asparagus spears, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup chickpeas (dry or canned)
- 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
- 3 raw and roasted garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- DRY CHICKPEAS: soak overnight in water. When ready to prepare, add chickpeas and water to pressure cooker, and cook over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes. Chickpeas should still have some resistance to the bite.
- CANNED CHICKPEAS: rinse thoroughly, and drain
- In saucepan over medium heat, add dry farro and toast for a few minutes
- Add broth, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until farro is al dente, approximately 20 minutes
- In skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine. When melted, add yellow onions and a pinch of salt. Turn heat to low and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden brown
- Add asparagus and a little bit of olive oil to skillet, and cook for 3-5 minutes until cooked through, but still tender-crisp
- Add mushrooms to skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes. You may need to add a little bit of vegetable broth for moisture.
- Add sundried tomatoes and garlic to skillet, and cook until fragrant
- Add cooked chickpeas and farro to skillet, and combine well with remaining ingredients
- Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
- Portion farro salad into bowls, top with feta cheese and spring onions, and serve