How is it already August? The thought of summer ending makes me anything but excited. My appreciation for fall and all its glorious colors and warm food is always delayed, for I try to hold on to summer as long as I can. But before I jump to conclusions and immerse myself in that which is nostalgia, I will share with you a bright and summery salad; one that is full of different textures, colors, and flavors. This is my Farro Beet + Arugula Salad.
In a moment of fleeting delusion, I wanted to name this salad: Farro, Beet, Fennel, Orange, Mint, Arugula, Radish, + Pistachio Salad. I quickly reverted to the current abbreviated version, which I still think does not do it justice, but this was because I wanted to highlight all the ingredients in the salad, for they all sing and all work together in harmony.
The salad itself is quite easy to make. There are a few ingredients that have to be prepared before the big toss. Beets, which add an earthy, unobstructed taste are roasted in olive oil, salt, pepper, + orange peel. Covering the pan with aluminum foil will lock in the moisture and allow the beets to stay hydrated throughout the cooking process. Farro, which is easily made from 1:3 parts grain to liquid, needs about 30 minutes to cook. What I like most about farro is it’s a sturdy and flavorful grain, offering a nutty and earthy taste. Fennel needs no preparation. Just that of a few cuts and slices. The pure and delicate anise flavor that seeps throughout the fennel stalk is one that is bright and refreshing. It offers a subtle but noticeable note throughout the salad, and is one not to be missed.
If you can get your hands on good arugula, I’d suggest you go for it. Farmers markets usually have a good supply, and the difference between store-bought and the fresh kind from the market is massive. Arugula is by far one of my favorite summer green and its powerful peppery bite can be lost in the packaged kind. Almost like wasabi- the spiciness is delayed when it hits your mouth but when it does, it seizes, but in the best way. Its presence throughout the salad creates a beautifully peppery and spicy bite. Fresh mint will have you say…ooo what is that. Not all bites have it, but when they do, it's an exciting surprise. Pistachios are colorful and round in flavor, and their texture matches the farro perfectly. The dressing, sweet and acidic is made by a simply solution of orange juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. Its flavors compliment the salad beautifully without overpowering it. The result of all these wonderful ingredients is a deliciously fresh, hearty, earthy, and bright salad, sure to make your summer day that much better. It stores well for the next day and makes for a great lunch (just make sure to leave out the dressing). I like to make a big portion for dinner or lunch for the week. I highly suggest trying this recipe out! And there are so many ways you can adapt this recipe year round with seasonal ingredients. Happy summer eating! Enjoy!
2 large beets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 orange, peeled (*need only the peels here, use the other have for juice and/or segments)
1 cup farro
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 large or 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 radish sliced thinly
1 small or 1/2 large orange, segmented + cut in half
2 cups packed arugula
2-3 tablespoons fresh mint, teared
2 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
2 tablespoons orange, juiced (use other half of orange)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the beets and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a baking pan, along with salt, pepper, orange peel (twisted to squeeze out juice + place in with the beets), and olive oil. Toss (with hands) to make sure everything is evenly coated. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until a fork is easily inserted in the center — should be soft but still retain firmness, about 30-40 minutes. Remove and let cool.
To make the farro, place the farro, water, and vegetable stock in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the farro is cooked through (note: instructions may vary per package). Remove and let cool.
To make the dressing, in a bowl whisk together the orange juice, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously, until incorporated. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the farro, beets, sliced fennel, radishes, orange segments, mint, and arugula. Drizzle on the dressing, as much as you like, and give a generous toss. Top with pistchios and serve right away or place in fridge and enjoy the next day (just wait to add the dressing and greens before you serve). Enjoy!
Makes: about 4 servings
Total Time: about 1 hour