This farro salad is studded with avocado chunks, artichoke hearts, baby spinach leaves, and cherry tomatoes, and dressed in a zippy herbed balsamic vinaigrette. It’s packed with flavor and hearty enough to make a meal of!
Fall is officially here, which means salad season is over, right? Nope!
Just as I eat soup all year round, I enjoy salad all throughout the year! I just don’t eat the same salads all year round. Whereas during the summer I prefer lighter, crisp veggie-based salads, during the fall and winter I’m all about hearty salads that really fill you up.
Farro makes for a super hearty salad.
What is Farro?
Farro is a whole grain that cooks up to have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It’s great for adding bulk to salads, but you can also use it as a substitute for rice or quinoa, put it into bowls, turn it into risotto, or even add it to chili!
There are a few different types of farro out there, so make sure you’re using the right one when you follow a recipe. For this dish I recommend using pearled emmer wheat farro, but other varieties will work as well — you just might need to adjust the cook time.
Farro is not gluten-free. If you’d like a gluten-free substitute for farro that works in this recipe, try quinoa or brown rice.
How to Cook Farro
Farro is really easy to overcook or undercook, which is why I usually ignore the package instructions when I cook farro and follow a method similar to this one. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt, and add your farro. Let the farro boil away rapidly for about 20 minutes, or as long as it takes to reach a texture that you like.
When it’s done cooking, drain your farro into a mesh strainer and let it cool or add it directly to your recipe.
How to Make Farro Salad
Start by making your dressing. For this recipe we’ll be making an herbed balsamic vinaigrette. Gather your ingredients: balsamic vinegar, water, olive oil, some maple syrup, garlic, parsley, chives, thyme, salt and pepper. Place everything in a blender and blend to create a smooth emulsion.
Next, arrange your cooked farro in a large bowl along with your veggies: spinach, artichoke hearts, avocado and cherry tomatoes.
Drizzle everything with the dressing and toss to coat.
FAQ & Farro Salad Tips
- Feel free to switch up the veggies with your favorites! Roasted red peppers, broccoli, kale, and olives would all be delicious in this salad.
- Use a good quality balsamic vinegar to make your dressing. Cheaper balsamic vinegars are usually very thin and overly acidic, and will make your dressing super sour. Good balsamic vinegars are thick, dark, and have a nice balance of sweetness to tartness.
- This recipe makes a generous amount of dressing. Use as much or little as you like.
- Is this salad gluten-free? It’s not, because farro contains gluten. For a gluten-free substitute, try brown rice or quiona, cooked according to the package directions.
- Your farro salad should keep for a day or two in a sealed container in the fridge. This time will vary a bit depending on how fresh your veggies are to start with. Your avocado may turn brown. To minimize browning, use a very fresh avocado and try spritzing it with some lemon juice.
- Want to add some protein? Throw in a can of chickpeas or top your salad with a savory baked tofu, such as this one.
Farro Salad with Herbed Balsamic Vinaigrette
This farro salad is studded with avocado chunks, artichoke hearts, baby spinach leaves, and cherry tomatoes, and dressed in a zippy herbed balsamic vinaigrette. It's packed with flavor and hearty enough to make a meal of!
- 1 cup pearled emmer wheat farro*
- 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
- 1 medium avocado, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup quartered artichoke hearts
For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the farro and allow it to cook at a rolling boil.
While the farro cooks, make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste-test and add more salt or adjust any seasonings to your liking.
After the farro has boiled for about 15 minutes, remove a couple grains and test them for doneness. The farro should be tender with a bit of chewyness when done, but cook it until it's as firm or soft as you like. The cook time should be in the range of 15 to 20 minutes.
When the farro is done cooking, drain it into a strainer. Let the farro sit in the strainer for a few minutes to cool.
Place the cooked farro into a large mixing bowl, along with the spinach, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad (use as much as you like) and toss to coat.
Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide onto plates and serve.
*Other varieties of farro will work as well, but may take longer to cook.