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The arrival of spring is always a welcome event, but after this year's particularly harsh winter, warmer weather—and all the great produce that it brings—can't come soon enough. For that reason, I thought it was appropriate to make a dish that has a foot in each season, acknowledging the chill that's still in the air while also celebrating the new weather ahead. My solution: a warm grain salad with hearty, nutty farro and sturdy ribbons of kale, along with tender, sweet peas and perky fresh asparagus.
Making farro is pretty foolproof. I find that it comes out best when I add plenty of salt to the cooking liquid, which helps season the grains throughout. Otherwise, it's just a matter of boiling it until it's plump and tender. To prepare the asparagus, I quickly brown some of it to coax out a little extra flavor, and leave the rest raw for a pop of freshness. Once the farro is cooked, I stir in the peas and kale while it's still warm, so that they'll cook in its residual heat. To finish, I toss it in a tangy Dijon vinaigrette, along with with some almonds and feta, for both crunch and creaminess.
This is an easy salad to vary depending on whichever greens look good at the market. Even though I'm a kale addict, I have to admit that it would be delicious with things like spinach or arugula—just remember that more tender greens should be added at the last minute to avoid over-wilting from the farro's heat.