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The Soliday sisters are two of my favorite humans that I’ve met in Sacramento. They’re witty, adventurous, and bold humanitarians. They’re both involved with social services and have a keen appreciation for food. Specifically, delicious food, local farmers markets, and a consumer’s role in the food system.
The Soliday Sisters
Recently, I attended a game night that Mo hosted where I happily ate this delicious farro salad. As I inquired about the ingredients and recipe, I knew I had to share the story of it’s evolution as part of my Cooking with Community series. Here it is, written collaboratively by Annie and Mo.
I still remember the first time I got to try farro. My sister was working at a natural foods store and had decided to try cooking with it. She invited me over for a meal with farro in it and told me it was an “ancient grain.” I was skeptical at first, thinking that it was going to be similar to bulgur wheat (flat and bland).
To my surprise it was totally delicious: chewy and full of flavor. It paired very well with other ingredients in the salad she had made. I was an instant convert, and I think she enjoyed a good older sibling “I told you so” moment after I shared how much I liked it.
Years later, she and I make farro salads pretty regularly in our respective homes. We each have standard ingredients we add to our salads: beans, fresh or dried fruit, goat or sheep’s milk cheese. As well as typical dressings of olive oil, vinegar, and sugar. The recipe detailed below is a salad that my sister and I collaborated on when I was staying at her house over Labor Day weekend.
Chopped Carrot Tops
She made fresh garbanzo beans in her crockpot and cooked the farro, while I prepared fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market. She suggested that we make garlic olive oil for the dressing and taught me a new technique for doing so. I talked her into letting me include the carrot tops in the salad and season it with some unconventional spices. The result was delicious, proving two heads are always better than one, especially in matters of the stomach.
Hope you enjoy!
If you enjoy farro salads, check out this freekeh salad with lentils. This farro with radicchio dish is another great recipe for exploring this whole grain.
Soliday Sister Farro Salad
A flexible, collaborative farro salad that features carrots and their tops alongside a garlic infused olive oil dressing.
low sodium vegetable broth, divided
sprig rosemary, fresh or dried
5 to 6
fresh carrots with tops, washed
cherry tomatoes, washed
feta cheese, crumbled
4 to 5
garlic, smashed, peeled, and cut in half
Cook the chickpeas
Place 2 cups of dried chickpeas in a slow cooker.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of garlic powder on top and add 1 quart of broth.
Place a sprig of rosemary on top (be sure to remove when the beans are done).
Cover and cook on high for 2 to 4 hours until chickpeas are tender.
Remove the sprig of rosemary and drain the chickpeas.
Cook the farro
Bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil over high heat.
Add farro and cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until farro is soft but still chewy. The grain should start to look kind of frayed or split at the edges but still retain its shape.
Drain excess water, then rinse with cold water. Leave farro in strainer to cool to room temperature
Make the dressing
Place the olive oil and garlic cloves into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the garlic begins to brown and the oil is fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes.
While the garlic and oil cooks, combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, sugar and salt into a small, heatproof bowl.
When the oil is done cooking, remove it from the heat and discard the garlic cloves.
Pour the oil into the bowl with the other dressing ingredients. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and dressing ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Taste and add more lemon juice, balsamic, or salt as needed.
Assemble the salad
Remove carrot tops and dice greens into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces. Grate the carrots on the largest grate of a box grater. If you have a food processor, the grating tool is your best friend!
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, or in quarters if they’re on the larger side.
Place the chickpeas, farro, carrots, carrot tops and parsley into a large bowl. Crumble the feta cheese on top.
Pour the salad dressing over all the ingredients and stir until it is evenly distributed throughout the salad.
You can easily use 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas if you prefer. Be sure to drain and rinse well before adding to the farro salad. Don’t have fresh rosemary? You can add 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary to your chickpeas. My crockpot does best with a 4 to 1 ratio for water and chickpeas but your mileage may vary. Instead of broth, you can add bouillon paste or cubes and water.
This salad is easily made vegan, with cheese served on the side; I did this for a work potluck recently and it was a hit with omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike.
Brown rice is going to be the best gluten free grain that mimics the farro texture for a gluten free salad.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
You can also add dried fruit to this farro salad. Apricot would be very good probably, as would tart cherries or cranberries. Nuts such as chopped walnuts or almonds and additional greens such as arugula, or kale that has been finely minced and massaged would also be nice to add or vary.