There is something so satisfying about a farro salad, especially when it's a complete meal. All you have to do is toss some in a big bowl, grab a fork, and dig in. My favorite versions are all about a mix of contrasting textures, so that every bite is unique. It all starts with a base of farro, which should be tender but with a pleasurable bite. Its nutty profile loves fresh and acidic flavors. Usually that just means a squeeze of lemon, but I decided to really play with the additions.
Fresh seafood really lighten things up. Though shrimp was my first thought, I eventually settled on squid. Just be careful. Cook squid too long and it seizes up, turning a texture close to rubber. But cook it quickly over high heat, and the squid remains tender, but with a slight pull to it—kind of like the farro. Texturally they may be similar, but the fresh flavor of the squid, along with the bite of garlic and red pepper flakes, help it stand out proudly against the farro.
Along with the requisite lemon juice and some fresh parsley, I added some white beans for creaminess and green beans for crunch. You can either serve the salad straightaway or let it cool to room temperature. But I was surprised how much I enjoyed it warm. Of course, that could have just been because I was hungry.
- Yield:serves 3 to 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 1/2 pound green beans (preferably haricot verts), ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup farro
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 pound squid bodies, cleaned, cut into 1-inch rings
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- One (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt and the green beans. Cook until bright green and tender, three to five minutes. Drain in a colander and then immediately toss in a large bowl of ice water. When cool, drain again in the colander and dry on paper towels.
Add farro to the empty medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups of cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. When done, drain farro in a colander.
With five minutes left for the farro, heat olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Season squid with salt and add to the skillet, spreading the rings out into one layer with a pair of tongs. Let cook without stirring for 30 seconds. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and stir well. Cook until squid are white but still tender, about 30 seconds and definitely no more than 1 minute. Add the white beans, stir well, and turn off the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the green beans, farro, all the contents of the skillet, the lemon juice, and most of the parsley. Toss with a large spoon. Taste and season with more salt, if necessary.
Serve immediately with a final sprinkling of the remaining parsley.