Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs

Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs We have a pile of flip-flops that rest by the back door all summer long, and I always know a change of season is on its way when the shoe clutter moves upstairs. The light in the dining room is different now – more golden and muted and shadowy and a few jackets have made their way out onto the coat rack. The farmers markets here are still bursting with late summer produce but we’re now talking holiday plans and thinking about ‘last hurrah’ backyard gatherings. In the kitchen we’re still eating a lot of tomatoes and eggplant, but I’ve started to make more oatmeal and polenta and have big plans for a batch of applesauce. But first, I want to share this colorful farro salad with apples, fresh herbs and Parmesan with you. It feels comforting and hearty yet still pulls off fresh and bright thanks to the abundance of chopped herbs — perfect for these weeks of slow yet steady change and signs of things to come. Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs | A Sweet SpoonfulFall has long been my favorite season but this year it feels even more special as it marks the season of Oliver’s birth. I remember turning inward last fall — feeling very grounded and centered, focusing on the big life change that was to come any day. I’d taken some time off from work, so I did a lot of cooking to stock the freezer and took vigorous walks around our neighborhood. I saw friends and read books. In retrospect I should’ve napped more.

Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs As the summer ticked on and as I got bigger and bigger, things still felt very distant and theoretical — I’d told myself that it wasn’t really go-time until we saw leaves changing. And it hit me one day while walking around Greenlake and noticing little sprinkles of orange flitting across the trees: our baby was on his way. Those of you who’ve been readers for awhile may remember that I also felt sad. I was lucky to have a positive and healthy pregnancy and felt really strong throughout. I’d come to know when our baby was most awake, when he’d kick; I’d talk to him and sing to him. I knew which yoga poses made him go crazy, so I started to avoid those for fear he was being over jostled. We didn’t know the sex of the baby until Oliver was born, so there was also this great anticipation; it was all a very rich period of waiting and as excited as I was to meet our baby, I’d also become quite comfortable. Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs

The sadness set in around Halloween as I started to mourn the loss of getting to feel and know this tiny baby growing inside of me. Little did I know, of course, that those moments would only be amplified when we actually got to meet Oliver and hold and rock him. Learn what soothed him and, eventually, what makes him smile and laugh. When I stare out our bedroom window now and notice the light changing, and feel my way around apple recipes once again — I can’t help but think back to all that uncertainty, anticipation, fogginess and clarity that I felt in those days right before he was born. Seasons are short, sure, and even years feel short sometimes. But then I look down and marvel at this active, suspender-wearing, swing-loving little boy blazing around the hardwood floors of the house and think about how at this time last year we hadn’t even met. And how lucky I am, now, to be able to reach down, grab him and toss him into the air.

Last week I received a box of SweeTango apples in the mail from Stemilt Orchards here in Washington, and fell in love with the sweet flavor (if you like Honeycrisp, you’ll love these) and firm, crisp texture. I set out to create a hearty grain salad that had big flavors and textures: honeyed apples, salty Parmesan, toasty pecans, a bit of lemon and lots of herbs from the garden. I cooked down the farro in a mixture of cider and water, which adds an extra punch of apple flavor (but if you’d prefer, you can certainly cook it in all water; I’ve made it both ways and it’s delicious regardless). It’s makes a great workday lunch and, I imagine, would make a very fine holiday side dish (or, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: ‘any kind of night’ side dish).

A quick note on sourcing apples: For WA state readers, you can find SweeTango apples in Seattle at Safeway, Fred Meyer and QFC and in Spokane at Rosauers and Yokes. If you’re unable to get your hands on SweeTango apples, any crisp, sweet apple would work great here (Honeycrisp would be my second choice).

 

Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs

Farro Salad with Honeyed Apples, Parmesan and Herbs

  • Yield: Serves: 4-6 (Makes about 5 cups)
  • Prep time: 30 mins
  • Cook time: 40 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

This salad is best served room temperature, so if you end up cooking the farro ahead of time and refrigerating it, just be sure to take it out and set it on the counter for a good hour or so before pulling it together. Also, when you go to shop for ingredients, just know that most farro you’re likely to see will be pearled or semi-pearled, a process that removes some of the bran for quicker cooking. Whole grain farro, on the other hand, can take 30-40 minutes longer to cook, so just be aware of which you’ve purchased and adjust the cook time as needed.

Ingredients

For the Dressing:

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous pinch kosher salt

For the Salad:

1 cup (185g) pearled or semi-pearled farro (often called perlato farro)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small Sweetango apples (300g) (or other sweet, firm apple), sliced into 1/2-inch wedges, then sliced further in thirds to make small chunks
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
3/4 cup (35g) chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup (10g) chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup (80g) toasted pecans, chopped
45 g /1.5 ounces grated Parmesan (about 3/4 cup)
Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, and 2 cups water to a hearty simmer. Reduce heat and cover, cooking until farro is tender yet still chewy and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 25-30 minutes. If there is excess liquid after the farro is done cooking, simply strain it away. Let farro cool off the heat (room temperature or slightly warm is ideal for this salad).

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add apples and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until apples begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add honey and continue cooking, until apples turn golden and become fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dressing: whisk together the lemon juice, honey, shallot, olive oil and salt. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, toss together the cooked and cooled farro, honeyed apples, chives, parsley, basil, and chopped pecans. Pour the dressing on top of the salad and fold to incorporate. Top with grated Parmesan. The salad is best served room temperature, but will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Comments

  1. Tara

    This, much like the farro salad with the lemons and arugula, looks like it will shortly be in our rotation. We also have an almost one year old (how?!?!? ?) and I'm still avoiding honey. Would you suggest maple syrup in place of it?

    1. megang

      Hi, Tara- Yes, we're not doing honey for Oliver yet either. I wonder if, when the honey is cooked, it's ok? If so, I'd just skip the honey in the dressing and keep it with the cooked apples. If not or that makes you nervous, cooking down the apples in the maple is a great idea and, in truth, I'd leave it out of the dressing and just taste it towards the end to see if you feel it needs a dash of sweetness -- in which case you can always add it (but can't obviously take it away!) Hope that helps + enjoy, Megan

      1. Tara

        I made it with the maple syrup in place of the honey in both instances and it was so. Dang. Good. I want to make it again and again and again. We'll serve it with Costco sandwiches and homemade cake at baby girl's party next month. ?

        1. megang

          So glad to hear it, Tara! I'll have to try it with the maple syrup on the next go around. Thanks so much for the update!

  2. Ashley

    This salad sounds amazing. Let's add this to the menu next weekend!! Also, how is he almost one?!!! Crazy.

    1. megang

      Oh my gosh, I know! I cry when I think about it. Yes, love to bring this salad along next weekend. So excited!

  3. Kathy

    Hi Megan! I made this wonderful salad last night. Very easy and Steffen gave it two thumbs up! Hope all is well in the Gordon/Schick home and that little Oliver is still ruling the roost!

    1. megang

      Hi, Kathy! So glad you liked the salad - I'm making it again this weekend for a trip with some friends. So good. Oliver is, indeed, still ruling the roost. Someone recently said that 'It's Oliver's world; we're all just living in it.' Makes a lot of sense in so many ways. Hope you guys are all good! xo

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Nicole!

  4. Becki

    Hi Megan! I made this salad tonight and it's wonderful, my husband and I both enjoyed it. Very more-ish! And full disclosure, tonight's version consisted of the essential ingredients (farro, apples, honey and pecans) and the rest of the recipe ingredients I just left out or made a substitution. I love grain salads, and this one is special because of the apples and it is really simple. Thanks!

  5. Jenn

    I made this for Rosh Hashana, it was perfect thematically and was given rave reviews! I used fresh sage from the garden in place of the parsley and basil and I will make it this way every time! Thanks for a great new recipe that will be a staple on our holiday table!

    1. megang

      Oh this makes my day, Jenn! I'm so glad you all enjoyed the salad - and thank you so much for taking the time to say so. Have a great rest of the week!

  6. Jess

    HI there- just found this recipe and sounds delish! Just wondering if you peeled the apples before cooking? Thanks!!

    1. megang

      Hi, Jess! I don't peel them, actually. They soften and give it a bit more of a rustic look. Enjoy the salad!

  7. Whitney

    I made this tonight to accompany grilled steak and it was so good! I didn't have apple cider to cook the farro so I added some apple cider vinegar to the dressing. I'll definitely be making this again.

    1. megang

      Awesome, Whitney! So glad you liked the salad - and your tweak sounds perfect.

Join the Discussion

Winter Comfort Food

Winter Morning Porridge

Winter Morning Porridge

I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead. 

Read More
Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine).  Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).

Read More
Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype. 

Read More
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.

Read More
Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage Tofu Ricotta

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage Tofu Ricotta

We recently had our favorite day of married life yet. When I tell you what it consisted of, you may worry or chuckle. Sundays used to be sacred in our house in the sense that it was our one day off together. We'd often read the paper, get a slice of quiche at Cafe Besalu, or take walks around Greenlake or Discovery Park. But now Sundays are generally when I work the farmers market for Marge Granola, and Sam helps me set up and take down each week, so they've taken on a very different feel, one more of work than leisure. So a few months ago, after mildly panicking that we no longer had any routines or days off, we reclaimed Saturdays as 'the new Sunday' and last weekend set the bar pretty high. The day began really cold: in the high 20's and graduated, eventually, to the 30's. We decided it'd be nice to just stay inside; Sam had a little work to do and some letters to write. He had a few articles he'd been wanting to read. And I'd been thinking about this lasagna recipe, so I puttered around the kitchen roasting squash and slicing garlic. The afternoon ticked on slowly. Sam made us baked eggs for a late lunch and I tried unsuccessfully to nap. I think it was the calmest we'd both felt in a long time. I'm lucky to have found a man who loves spending time at home as much as I do. While we both love going out to see friends, traveling, and having people over to our place, we also gain the most, I'd say, by doing simple things around the house -- straightening up, making a meal. organizing records or books or photos.  Especially in this season of cold temperatures and early-darkening skies, it's what I crave the most. And last Saturday closed in the best of ways: we opened a bottle of "wedding wine" (thanks to my neurosis and fear we'd run out, we over-ordered wine when planning for our wedding) and dug into generous slices of this very special vegetarian lasagna, a hearty layered affair with caramelized onions, a sage-flecked tofu ricotta and a simple, savory butternut squash purée.

Read More