Summer Grain Salads: Farro Salad With Blue Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Tomatoes

Farro joins tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pine nuts, and blue cheese in a red wine vinaigrette. Jennifer Olvera

Grains can be a polarizing food, but whether you love them or hate them, we can all agree on one thing: boring grain dishes should be tossed out with the chaff. This week-long series is all about inventive, refreshing grain salads: full of flavor, and perfect for summer. If we have one basic goal here, it's to make believers out of naysayers, and give inspiration to those already converted.

In this simple recipe, farro is simmered with onion, garlic, and carrot to impart extra flavor. Then it's combined with a host of fresh ingredients: juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs, all of which are tied together with red wine vinaigrette, pine nuts, and crumbled blue cheese.

The key to good farro is to avoid cooking it too long. My package directions said 30 minutes, but that landed me with swollen, overcooked grains. In my case, 20 minutes did the trick, but the bottom line with all grains is keeping an eye on the pot and trusting your taste.

Once the farro is drained and cooled, simply toss in your chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, along with a fresh, aromatic handful of basil, parsley, and thyme. Finish it off with the nuts, cheese, and vinaigrette and you'll find yourself with a cool, refreshing summer salad that's more than worthy of your next backyard barbecue.