Another Year, Another Farro Salad


It is -15°F in Chicago right now. That is the air temperature. With the wind they are telling us it feels like -45°F. In case you’re not sure, that is very cold. It is so cold that much of the city has shut down. When we went grocery shopping on Saturday our local Whole Foods was out of potatoes (?!) and many shelves were empty throughout the store. Everyone was stocking up with the hope of not leaving home for a few days.

The intense cold does have its perks—Bryan and I are home from work. Snow days (cold days?) are so fun because it is bonus time. You’re under no obligation to do anything. We sure aren’t. I’m not even cooking.

But a few days ago I made this farro salad, though at the time I had no intention of writing about it. The internet needs another recipe for farro salad like it needs more pop-up ads. But then this little salad turned out to be the best version of a farro salad I have ever eaten and I couldn’t keep it to myself. Cooking the farro with some apple cider was a real revelation to me, and I will definitely be repeating this in the future. It’s the type of food many of us are craving right now. I sure am.

Enjoy this farro salad and stay warm, my fellow Chicagoans. And for all of my friends and family in Los Angeles, think of us when you complain that it is chilly this evening. ; )


Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad (via the NY Times)

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (1/2 cup)
  • 70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups arugula leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced radish
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing

In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.

In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add farro, cheese and pistachio nuts and mix well. This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving). Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.


34 comments to “Another Year, Another Farro Salad”

  1. That is SO COLD! I am from Michigan but live in California, and I feel somewhat guilty about the sunshine, etc. while you people are freezing your buns off. BUT snow/cold days are the best! Get cozy and enjoy it. (:

  2. Oh, the apple cider seems like a nice touch!

    Stay warm…even in balmy Austin we’re getting into the teens tonight, brrr!

  3. This cold is insane. I have only left my blanket covered chair to make more hot herbal tea.

    That salad looks delicious.

  4. This looks amazing! And I’ve never heard of farro salad (I’m from the UK) – will definitely be giving it a go. xx

  5. I hear ya! I’m in Minnesota, -17 right now. I went to Whole Foods yesterday and had the same experience – they were out of ginger root (?!), the 365 brand (aka cheaper) coconut milk, and domestic (again, cheaper!) feta cheese. And those were just the things on my list that I couldn’t find. People sure were stocking up before the coldest of the cold days, but I wonder what on earth were they cooking? :)

  6. This salad is absolutely dreamy!! Yum!

  7. What’s so weird about today that this morning in CT it was 55 degrees and now we’re just hovering above freezing. (Our plunge to the teens/low digits happens tonight.) This salad is a nice compromise between something warm and comforting while also being light–will keep it in mind as we deal with the rest of winter.

  8. Sending warm thoughts your way Chi-Chi!

  9. Yep, there were almost no canned tomatoes when I was at the store on Sunday, but maybe that shouldn’t have been too surprising between students returning from the holidays and the weather. Unfortunately, I may have to step out and go to the store today. I hope the shelves are fuller!

    This salad sounds great, by the way. Apple cider!

  10. Rachel Waters says:

    January 7th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I love the nuttiness of farro and have never tried cooking it with apple cider. Can’t wait to try! Happy New Year :)

  11. Thank you so much for using the weight of the ingredients as your prime listing and the volume as the secondary. I am getting so testy these days about that subject that if a cookbook, and a baking book especially, does not give the amount by weight, I do not buy it. Continue to love your blog.

  12. OK, I do feel bad…it was 80 a few days ago, about 60 today. You poor dears! As for the farro salad…way to start the New Year; nutritious, fresh, beautiful, and no doubt totally delicious. Stay warm indoors…hope it breaks soon.

  13. This salad looks really tasty, and except for radishes, includes things I always have on hand. Cooking farro in apple cider is new to me. It’s funny your store was out of potatoes. I guess people are getting beyond needing milk, eggs, and bread for “snow” days.

  14. This salad looks great, but maybe for a warmer day. I have also been living in the center of the polar vortex and had the same experience of the supermarket running out of items on Saturday. Apparently butternut squash has become a necessity in Chicago. I wanted to make roasted squash soup, but the Mariano’s in Roscoe Village was completely sold out of fresh butternut squash. I snagged the last bag of frozen and will have to improvise by trying to roast the frozen nuggets. I’m not sure how it will taste, but at least it will be hot.

  15. Ooh I love the idea of adding apple cider to the farro! This looks awesome. :)

  16. I feel a little bit guilty for the California weather I’m enjoying right now. This farro salad looks beautiful.

  17. You always find the best salads, so even though there might be a lot of other farro around the Web, my money’s on this delicious looking gem.

  18. I’m sure salads everywhere are rejoicing since farro became more mainstream. Its hearty texture and chewiness is the perfect vessel for fresh veggies and an acidic dressing. Yum!

  19. I had this a couple of weeks ago at the restaurant and loved it. I tried making it at home from memory but missed several key ingredients…can’t wait to do it again with the recipe in hand.

  20. I love the look of this salad, but alas, am gluten free. Do you think brown rice might substitute….other thoughts?

  21. I love farro! Your salad turned out so pretty. Will definitely give it a try. Stay warm!

  22. Geez, and I thought it was cold here in New York. This salad will be sure to cheer me up! Would you recommend pairing this with soup or a side?

  23. Of course! That makes perfect sense. I always sprinkle my lentils with vinegar after they are done to perk them up. Of course the trick would work with lentils. Thanks for teaching me a new use for an old trick.

  24. Hi Jan- Sure, you can try that. I don’t think it will be as good, it will lack the chew and heft of farro…but still worth a try.

  25. This farro salad looks so fresh and pretty, and the pistachio is a delicious touch! We feel guilty too for complainig over our So California evenings and hope you both are staying nice warm:)

  26. The Internet needs another recipe for farro salad like it needs more pop-up ads- haha! so funny! Love your writing.

  27. I posted this salad on my blog a few weeks ago…..but no radishes…..I eat it weekly, I am addicted to it. I put a little honey in the dressing, feta and Marcona almonds. The best!

  28. LOVE farro! This recipe looks wonderful… perfect for the season. Will certainly give it a try! Thank you! Happy New Year!

  29. Delicious! Thank you!
    I’ve made it twice since you posted it, both times with toasted walnuts instead of pistachios (cheap + lazy).
    It’s been my go-to lunch for the past week: I mix the farro/nuts/radishes/parm/dressing together in one container and keep the arugula/herbs in another. In the morning I halve some cherry tomatoes, put them on top of the farro, then the greens on top of that. Leave it in my backpack all morning to warm to room temperature, then give it a good shake right before eating. Perfect.

  30. Hi JG- Thanks for checking in! I am glad to hear it transports well, those are good tips.

  31. Truly one of the best farro salad I’ve ever eaten.

  32. I came across this recipe last week, and it seemed like a nice bright fresh thing to make, especially with this awful awful weather (I am in Toronto, so about the same misery as Chicago). Anyway, I realized I had read the recipe wrong when I made my shopping list, and assumed it called for “apple cider vinegar” not “apple cider”. Even though it would only be a 10 minute walk back to the grocery store, I just couldn’t do it (+6F, 20 mph wind). I used 1/2 c apple cider vinegar and replaced the other 1/2 c with water. It was fabulous. Ate it for lunch today, and am going to have it for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I do think the world needs more faro salad. thanks for sharing this one.

  33. Finally got around to making this and, while it is impossible to purchase a small amount of apple cider at least I have tons to make lots more farro salad. That plus the pistachios made this yummy and unique in the sea of farro recipes. Thanks!
    And hey, look…it’s still not warmer in Chicago. So fresh salads are welcome since spring isn’t happening!

  34. Hi Keri- Thanks for checking in. I froze the rest of my apple cider in 1-cup portions so I can easily make this whenever I want.

What do you think?