Farro and Spinach Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts
Simple and delicious! Check out this easy sweet and savoury vegan salad featuring the healthy whole grain: farro!
A month ago, my husband, Scott, was on a business trip and he texted me a picture of a salad that he created from the company’s “fancy” cafeteria. Does your spouse/family/friends send you pictures of food too?
I say “fancy”because he remarked about how they offered scratch-made omelets and other breakfast meals, had a comprehensive salad bar, and cold-pressed fresh juice! My former workplace had a small kitchen/eating area where we would bring lunch to store in the refrigerator if there was room… so not fancy, but functional.
Anyway,his salad had farro in it. I don’t remember what other ingredients were in the salad, but I’m 100% sure that it didn’t have corn, peas, or whole tomatoes in it. All the things I like, but he doesn’t. Sigh.
Since I was on a grains and greens kick (Check out my recipe for Baby Kale and Brown Rice Salad with Feta and Clementines), I decided to make a very simple vegan salad showcasing farro.
What’s in this salad?
- Farro: This grain is nutty, a little sweet, and wonderfully chewy,yet soft when cooked. Also, toasting farro for a short time brings out it’s nutty flavours even more. Plus, it’s good for you as it’s high in fiber and a good source of protein and iron. You can find farro in three forms:
- Whole grain (farro integrale): it has all the bran intact and therefore the most nutrients, but also usually requires an overnight soak and is the longest to cook.
- Semi-pearled (farro semiperlato): It has some of the outer bran layer polished off through a pearling process, but is the second fastest to cook.
- I recommend using this type since it is still relatively fast to cook to al dente (20-25 minutes) and retains a good amount of nutrients.
- Pearled (farro perlato): This contains no bran and is the fastest to cook.
- Look for farro in the bulk food section or packaged in grocery stores, especially natural food or health stores.
- Baby spinach: It has a mild flavour and tender texture making it easy to eat. This leafy green is super healthy. For example, it’s an excellent source of vitamins A, K, plus folate and iron.
- Dried fruit: Tart and sweet. Look for dried fruit with no added sugar. I used dried cranberries and golden raisins. Other dried fruits that would be delicious in this salad are dried chopped apricots, cherries, or blueberries.
- Mixed nuts and/or seeds: Nutty and crunchy. I used a “trail-mix” variety of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds, and cashews.
- Walnuts, pecans, and pistachios would also make wonderful substitutes or additions to this salad.
- In general, most nuts and seeds are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats (“good fats” that help lower bad cholesterol levels), fiber, and vitamin E.
- Dressing: Lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and sea salt is so simple, but packs a citrusy note that ties together the salad.
Overall, this salad is:
- Light and Delicious
- Sweet and savoury
- Full of texture
- Quick and easy
- Great to serve warm or chilled
- 1 cup dry uncooked semi-pearled or pearled farro, rinsed *(see first note)
- 3 cups (packed) baby spinach
- ½ cup dried fruit, no added sugar (I used golden raisins and cranberries)
- ½ cup mixed nuts and/or seeds (I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and cashews)
- ½ lemon, juice and zest
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Lemon wedges
- In a wide bottom saucepan or skillet over medium heat, add the farro and shake and stir the pan until the farro is lightly toasted and fragrant (nutty aroma), about 2-3 minutes.
- Then, cook farro according to package directions, until al dente **(see second note).
- Place the cooked farro in a large bowl with the the rest of the ingredients. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust to your preferences such as adding more spinach, nuts and/or dried fruit.
- Serve warm or chilled with lemon wedges.
- *1 cup of dry uncooked farro yields about 2 cups cooked. Using semi-pearled or pearled farro does not require overnight soaking before cooking like whole grain farro.
- **If you buy bulk or want general directions for cooking farro: Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil, add 1 cup of farro, decrease to a simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes (depending on farro type) until al dente. Taste for doneness before draining the excess water (if any).
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 13g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 306mg Carbohydrates: 45g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 16g Protein: 11g
I hope you try this recipe! If you do, please comment and leave a rating down below. You can also connect with me on my social media by tagging me (I’m @yay_for_food on Instagram). I love pictures of food!