When 1789 chef Daniel Giusti studied in Italy, he saw a lot of salads made with farro, the ancient whole grain that’s said to have nourished Roman legions as they conquered the Mediterranean. Today, the hearty ingredient—which is similar to barley—is enjoying a renaissance in both Europe and the New World.
For his menu at the stately Georgetown restaurant, Giusti dresses up his farro salad with roasted beets, carrots, fennel, and crisp baby arugula, then drizzles it with a sweet citrus vinaigrette.
“The farro has a great earthy flavor,” says Giusti. “It’s also very difficult to overcook so it retains its al dente texture.”
For the salad to really shine, it’s important to dress the farro liberally: “It’s easy for the average cook to be hesitant with things like seasoning and dressing,” says Giusti. “A bowl of farro is not like a bowl of dainty salad greens; it can hold up to a lot of dressing.”
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Makes 4 servings
For the dressing:
1⁄8 cup sherry vinegar
1⁄8 cup orange juice
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients and season to taste with salt and black pepper. The dressing isn’t emulsified, so it’s not important to whisk it together slowly.
For the farro:
1½ cups farro
3 cups water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Place both the farro and the water in a small pot, season the water to taste with salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook the farro until all of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Remove the farro from the heat and toss it with the olive oil until it’s evenly coated (this prevents clumping). Set the farro aside and let cool to room temperature.
For the beets:
4 baby candy-stripe beets
4 baby yellow beets
4 baby red beets
Preheat the oven to 350.
Wash the beets and remove their leafy tops. Place them on a roasting pan and cook in the oven until fork tender, about 35 minutes. Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool slightly. While they’re still warm, use a kitchen towel to rub off their outer skin. Once they’re peeled, cut them into quarters and set aside.
For the fennel:
1 bulb fennel
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the bulb of fennel in half lengthwise. Using a small knife, remove the core and root end. Slice the half bulbs of fennel into ¼-inch-thick batons. Toss the fennel in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the fennel in a roasting pan in the oven until it’s tender and turns golden. Set the fennel aside.
To assemble the salad:
8 baby carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)
2 handfuls baby arugula
Toss the farro with the beets and the fennel and dress heavily with vinaigrette. Spoon the mixture onto a serving platter or plate. In a separate bowl, toss the baby arugula and sliced carrots with the dressing and place it on top of the farro mixture.
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