I used to hate meals like this one. It didn't strike me so much as a dish as an excuse to toss everything imaginable into a bowl and call it dinner. Worst of all, there was something obnoxiously healthy about it all.
But, thanks to some supreme late-night hunger pangs, I was forced to sample this concoction, which my wife had been planning to take to work for lunch, from Simple Italian Snacks. And, completely against my will, I had to admit that I kind of loved it.
Why? Well, the combination of almonds, sweet dried cranberries, and apples is never bad, and the addition of smoked mozzarella adds another layer of flavor. The farro cooks up plump and distinct, making each bite filling. The wine-roasted garlic is easily the most complicated part of this very simple recipe, yet it gives each bite an indescribable edge.
- For the Wine-Roasted Garlic
- 10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Splash of white wine
- For the Farro Salad
- 1 cup farro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup blanched almonds, chopped
- 2 apples
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup craisins
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
- 6 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
For the wine-roasted garlic: Preheat oven to 350°. Place garlic cloves in the center of a 1-foot by 1-foot sheet of aluminum foil. Top with the honey and wine. Fold the aluminum foil up into a pouch. Place pouch on a baking sheet, and then transfer to the oven. Cook until garlic is soft, about 45 minutes. Set aside, turn off oven, and let cool. Then squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.
For the farro salad: While the garlic is cooking, combine farro, salt, and six cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 25 minutes. When done, drain the farro in a colander, and then dry for 10 minutes on a paper-towel-lined tray.
Core both apples, and cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss them immediately into a medium-sized bowl with the lemon juice and enough water to cover.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Pour the almonds into a medium skillet set over medium heat. Cook, shaking the skillet often, until toasted. Transfer almonds to a large bowl along with the farro, craisins, parsley, mozzarella, and wine-roasted garlic. Drain the apples and add them, too. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.