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.


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


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.


  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

    2. 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. 😍

    3. 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.

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