Insalata di Farro with Beets and Feta Cheese
You will find farro salads in little lunch spots all over Italy, though I remember them to be the most common in Florence, where lunch had more options than Rome did. I was never crazy about farro, which is actually barley, but I thought that I would be fancy and use the Italian word. I was never crazy about it until I started making my own farro salads, the same way that I would make a rice salad, which are also really big in Italy.
One of the main ingredients in my farro salad are beets and one of my favorite things about beets is that they turn everything pink, making a boring brown whole grain salad into something really beautiful. People have been talking a lot about roasted beets lately, so I tried it out. I usually boil my beets when using them and honestly, I didn’t notice any difference in the flavor.
Insalata di Farro with Roasted Beets & Feta Cheese
- 1 cup farro, soaked for one hour in water to cover and drained
- 2 medium beets
- 3 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 cup of marinated artichokes, drained and cut into thin slivers
- 2 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp grainy mustard
- pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the beets and wrap them in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins and chop into small pieces.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the farro, boil for about 10 minutes or until the farro is tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Prepare the dressing in a small bowl or a glass, whisking all of the ingredients together with a fork.
In a large bowl combine the cooled farro, beet pieces, chopped spinach, artichokes, crumbled feta and pour dressing over the salad, tossing to dress the whole salad.
I have found that these salads develop more flavor the day after you make them, the spinach will wilt a little bit with the vinegar, but is still delicious.