Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Farro & Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Fennel

Farro & Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Fennel
My pregnancy food cravings this time around have run the gamut -- everything from the stereotypical pickles and ice cream {not at the same time} to sweets and chocolate milk. But I've also been craving healthy foods too. In particular, green vegetables {spinach, broccoli, or edamame} and anything tart and tangy {barely sweetened kefir, granny smith apples, and pomegranate seeds} have been topping the list.
It's a challenge some days to eat as healthy as I would like because there isn't always time to cook. But that's what makes salads such as this one a great option. It can be made ahead of time and at the ready whenever the urge strikes - and it makes a great packed lunch too. I had been on the lookout for some wholesome and substantial salad options when I found this recipe within the pages of a recent Williams Sonoma catalog {believe it or not, it's actually a great place to find recipes!} and knew I would love the combination of fennel and pomegranate.
Whisk Chop Serve
However, as much as I try to love quinoa, I'm not the biggest fan of it on it's own. I like grains with more texture and chew, and because of that I find quinoa to be a bit wimpy on it's own {unless you're eating it as a breakfast cereal}. But paired with a grain like farro, it's a different story.
If you're not familiar with farro, it's the Italian name for the grain, emmer wheat - which is quite similar to the more commonly used wheat berry, or kamut. All are varieties of hard wheat with different names because of the region they're grown in, or the type of wheat plant they're harvested from. But I find them interchangeable in most applications, so if you have a hard time locating farro, feel free to substitute wheat berries.
Farro & Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Fennel
This recipe calls for both cooked quinoa and farro, and while most packages of either of these grains contain cooking instructions, I'm also giving you my method for cooking each below. In particular, I like cooking farro until it's just done, and most cooking methods I've tried only end up yielding a mushy mess. Not only do I prefer the chewy texture of slightly undercooked farro, it also holds up much better in salads such as this one...even after adding the vinaigrette and keeping it in the fridge for days. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
Some more of my favorite hearty salad recipes - Lentil & Bulgur Salad | Perfect Protein Salad | Quinoa & Tempeh Salad | Wheat Berry, Walnut & Date Salad | Tabbouleh

Farro & Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Fennel

{printable recipe}
Yields: 6 servings
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Kitchen
This hearty, grain salad makes a great vegetarian main course or a healthy side dish option. The pairing of nutty quinoa with chewy farro, crunchy sliced celery and fennel, with tart pomegranate make it balanced and satisfying all around. I love making salads like this to have on hand for a "grab and go" lunch option and my kids {who love anything with pomegranate seeds} even enjoyed it!

1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked & cooled farro {see recipe below}
1 cup cooked & cooled quinoa {see recipe below}
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Add the pomegranate juice, lemon juice, mustard, shallot, and agave to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the cooked farro, cooked quinoa, celery, fennel, parsley, and pomegranate seeds to a large mixing bowl. Pour in half of the dressing and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and adjust the amount of dressing as desired. Serve.

Note: The salad and dressing can be prepared ahead of time. After adding the dressing, the salad will still keep well for days in the fridge, but you could also add the dressing as you serve it, if desired.

How to Cook Quinoa: Place 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool, running water, "massaging" the grains gently as you rinse them. The massaging helps remove saponins, which can make the quinoa bitter, or soapy tasting. Add the rinsed quinoa to a small saucepan with 2 cups water and a 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the quinoa with a fork. {yields approximately 3 cups cooked quinoa}

How to Cook Farro: Rinse 1 cup farro and add to a medium saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes {taste the farro after 20 minutes of cooking - if it's a bit too underdone for your taste, cook a little longer, or until just tender and slightly chewy}. Drain thoroughly and serve. {yields approximately 2 1/2 cups cooked farro}


molly said...

yum! i have a bad of farro sitting in my cabinet that i have not known what to do with! this looks delightful.

Wellington Artist said...

I can't wait to try this! Your pictures make my mouth water.

Joanne said...

I feel very similarly about just doesn't have enough chew to stand on it's own in a grain salad! But with farro to boost it up...perfect!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

This not only looks beautiful but I bet it tastes amazing too! I'm on a pomegranate kick right now and this fits the bill!

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