The farro salad you most often encounter in Italy goes something like this—farro, tomatoes, herbs, cheese, olive oil, and perhaps a splash of vinegar.
This farro salad is my attempt to take things in a different direction. Chopped green olives, chives, toasted walnuts, and honey combine with a few other ingredients into a quirky yet delicious preparation that leaves a huge impression. Massive Sicilian Castelvetrano olives are my choice here, but any great-tasting green olives will do—Cerignola, Lucques, or Sevillano—preferably from an olive bar, not a can. If you prepare the olive mixture a day or two ahead of time, it is even better, but bring it to room temperature before serving.
- 1¼ cups whole or semipearled farro
- 3 cups water
- Fine-grain sea salt
- 1 pound green olives, rinsed then pitted
- 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped toasted walnut halves
- 4 to 6 green onions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 bunch chives, minced
- Scant ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup golden raisins, chopped
- Shaved pecorino cheese, to serve
Combine the farro, water, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to take from a boil to a simmer, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes if semi-pearled, longer if whole. Cook until tender, but not so long that the grains become mushy. Drain off any extra water and set aside.
Coarsely chop the olives and place them in a bowl along with the olive oil, walnuts, green onions, chives, red pepper flakes, honey, lemon juice, raisins, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir well and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to serve the salad.
The olive mixture is best at room temperature, so if you ’ve refrigerated it, set it out for 30 minutes before doing the final toss. Combine the farro and olive mixture in a bowl and mix to combine well. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve topped with thin strips of shaved pecorino.
Reprinted with permission from Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson, © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography © 2015 by Heidi Swanson.