Farro Salad with Arugula, Lemon, Feta and Pistachio

Farro Salad with Arugula, Lemon, Feta and Pistachio | A Sweet Spoonful

Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we’re all really good at making excuses to leave the office early — or, simply, to “work from home.” I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I’d been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour — sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat.

The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver’s cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I’d say. Coming home I realized we didn’t have much in the fridge for lunch — but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It’s the kind of salad that’s meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn’t yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there’s always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open — a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen. 

Farro Salad with Arugula, Lemon, Feta and Pistachio | A Sweet Spoonful

I originally developed this recipe for my whole grain column in Edible Seattle, and at the time was longing to work in as much color as possible to kick the mid-winter blues. Lemons help. Preserved Meyer lemons really help. We always make a few jars of preserved lemons sometime in January or February and love using them in salads, hummus, dips — so many things, really. If you’ve never made them, they’re so, so simple and after awhile you don’t need a recipe; it’s more of a method and a feel than anything. But this is a good place to start.

For this salad, I used Hayden Flour Mills’s farro which is so wonderfully nutty and chewy. If you’re not familiar with the company, they are led by a father / daughter team based in Arizona and they’re doing really amazing things with whole grains. I love their pancake mixes, purple barley and whole grain crackers — and it just so happens that Sam’s graphic design firm, Neversink, revamped their new packaging. It’s always nice when good people get to work together to make something great truly shine, and I think that’s exactly what happened with Hayden Flour Mills’ products.

I hope you had a wonderful week, and I want to thank all of you for your sweet, encouraging comments on motherhood, balancing work, and life in general. I know I’ve said it before, but I realize there are hundreds (thousands?) of online forces vying for your attention and energies, and I so appreciate you all stopping by this pocket of mine. And taking the time to leave a comment every now and again. It really means so much.

Farro Salad with Arugula, Lemon, Feta and Pistachio

Farro Salad with Arugula, Lemon, Feta and Pistachio

  • Yield: 4 servings

Hearty grain salads are a staple in our house, and this one hits all the right notes with slightly bitter arugula, bright lemon, creamy feta and crunchy pistachios. Like most hearty whole grain salads, this one is quite versatile, so you could certainly use a different grain if you’d like. Barley, wheat berries or even freekeh would be great. And a different hearty green or nut will also work just fine. With savory recipes, I love cooking my grains with a bit of broth in addition to water for an extra boost of flavor. And if you’re not a big feta fan, feel free to swap in goat cheese, shaved Parmesan or ricotta salata.


1 cup (185g) semi-pearled farro
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 shallot, finely minced
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups (40g) arugula, chopped
1/2 cup (65g) shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped, divided
1/3 cup (55g) chopped preserved lemon
1/4 cup (8g) chopped fresh chives
3 ounces (85g) feta cheese


Add the farro, broth and water to a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until farro is tender and most of the liquid evaporates, about 25-30 minutes. If there is excess liquid after the farro is done cooking, simply strain it away. Let farro cool for at least 15 minutes, or until at room temperature.

In a small bowl or mason jar, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the cooked farro, arugula, 1/4 cup pistachios, preserved lemon and chives to a large salad bowl. Toss with the dressing. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Fold in the feta and top with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Serve room temperature or refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days (bring to room temperature before serving).


  1. Shila

    I love the idea of cooking grains in a little broth to up the flavor! And thus combination of flavors looks perfectly springy and light--I imagine a little blanched asparagus would be delightful too.

  2. katie

    Preserved lemons are magic and this salad looks like what I need right about now. P.S. I am loving following along your journey as a mama. Precious days.

  3. Heather

    There are hundreds out there but yours is definitely one of my favorites!

  4. Tisa

    This looks really interesting and timely (record breaking temps this week in Sonoma County). Could I sub in lemon zest or something in the absence of preserved lemon? I still have a bunch of Meyer lemons on the tree.

    1. megang

      Hi, Tisa - Yes, absolutely. I'd put zest in the dressing along with the shallot. Alternatively, preserved lemons are relatively easy to find at the store these days. Enjoy! ~Megan

  5. Sarah

    This looks great for some lunches this week.

  6. Emma

    This looks so good! Preserved lemons are my favorite secret ingredient. Thanks for using our farro- what an honor. The new packaging is very photogenic :) thanks to Neversink!

  7. Liz @ travellingtabletales

    This looks so good. I have never had preserved lemons before, but after reading this I need to really get onto this. I have so many lemons in the fridge at the moment, so perhaps I should even try to make my own. Thank you for sharing. xx

    1. megang

      Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Yes making them is super easy (although does take inactive time to let them do their thing - a few weeks to a month). You can also pick them up at the supermarket to start on this sooner. I hope you enjoy it! ~Megan

  8. Gretchen

    What a delicious recipe! A big hit at a potluck and a welcome burst of sunny lemon before winter!

    1. megang

      So glad you enjoyed it, Gretchen!

  9. Deborah G

    Love discovering this and seeing you love Hayden Mills. We moved from Seattle to Phoenix about 12 years ago and love seeing our local farmers and producers getting recognition for the amazing work they do. Hayden Mills also makes really great flours for artisan bread, pastries or fresh made pasta. And because we have a lemon tree, preserved lemons are always in the fridge! This is a great recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    1. megang

      YES Deborah! I'm a huge fan of their products. We've tried their pancake mixes, too, and often bring them along when we go camping in the summer. Fun sidenote: my husband Sam did the design for their website and packaging :)

  10. Emmy

    I added a splash of white wine vinegar, omit the preserved lemon (still uses the juice) and added a handful of dried cranberries and some diced roasted pimentos (red peppers). Delish!

    1. megang

      YUM! Love your tweaks, Emmy. Sounds delicious.

  11. Beth Fagiani

    I have been making a salad a week for lunch this summer, and I am so excited that I found your recipe - it looks delicious. I have a question, though - are the farro cooking instructions copied from another recipe? I am confused by the line "discard bay leaves."

    1. megang

      Hi, Beth! Strange, very strange. Updating that now and removing the bay leaves from the instructions. Thank you for bringing that to my attention! I hope you love the recipe.

  12. Erin

    Where would one find preserved lemons in the grocery store? Any thoughts? I'm wanting to make this for my lunch this week and don't have the time to preserve them myself. Thanls!

    1. megang

      So sorry for the delay here, Erin. Hmm so do you have a middle eastern market, by chance? That's a strong first bet. Otherwise a well stocked gourmet grocery will likely have them. OR, leave them out!! Won't be as much of a flavor punch, but it will still be delicious.

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