Awhile ago, my friend Maria and I made a trek to Costco for household supplies and while we wandered the aisles of giant jars of peanut butter and cases of toilet paper, we came across someone offering samples of farro. I had never seen the grain at a store before, but here and there in recipe books I had seen the name. Farro is a nutty, chewy grain that is really quite tasty. We found it for fairly cheap (around $5 for a big bag), but if you can't find it or it's very expensive, I think you could substitute barely or even brown rice in this recipe.
This salad is really tasty. Sweet roasted veggies, chewy grains, salty feta, and a bit of spice from the harissa are a really great combination. I also have a pile of ripe avocados hanging around on my counter and decided to chunk one up and toss it in, which was a great idea. This recipe doesn't give you a huge portion but it's really satisfying and nice to take to work for lunch. Don't be worried about not finding harissa either-I haven't been able to for years, but finally a friend gifted me some. It's just a spicy paste or oil, and you can substitute a little chili powder without a problem. It's a great way to use up some extra veg, and I love the sweet and slightly charred roasted veggies. I normally don't eat parsnips often, but in this salad with the feta and mint they are very, very good.
1 cup uncooked farro
4 cups water or chicken broth
1/2 pound carrots (about 4 medium)
1 lb parsnips (about 2-3 large)
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more to taste
3/4 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp harissa, to taste (or sub some chili powder to taste)
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice and some lemon zest
pinch ground cumin
Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
In a medium sized pot, bring the farro and chicken broth to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer about 20-25 minutes, until tender. They should still have a bit of bite but not be crunchy. Drain well and set aside to cool.
While the farro is cooking, peel and chop the carrots and parsnips into matchstick sized pieces, about 2-3 inches long. Toss them with about 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooled farro, roasted vegetables, mint and feta. Drizzle the dressing over top and give it a good toss. Serve topped with chunks of avocado, fresh cracked pepper, and a little more freshly chopped mint leaves.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen