I recently tried farro for the first time at a local café and was immediately smitten. It was served as a salad, dressed with a simple vinaigrette, and tossed with roasted vegetables. As I savored each bite all sorts of recipe ideas flooded my brain. Orange Pecan Farro Salad is the first of many recipes in which I plan to use this unique and delicious grain.
Farro is a strain of wheat that originated in the Fertile Crescent – a region of the Middle East where ancient civilizations thrived on its fertile land. Farro has been a staple of Italian cooking for hundreds of years but only within the past decade or so has it gained popularity here in the U.S. It’s frequently referred to as a “super grain” because it’s lower in calories and higher in fiber than most other whole grains. It’s also higher in protein than quinoa which is a grain that is often touted for its high protein content.
I used “pearled” farro for Orange Pecan Farro Salad because it is simpler to cook and is the most readily available type of farro sold at mainstream grocery stores. When farro is “pearled” it means that some or all of the bran has been removed. Unfortunately this removes some of the nutrients as well, but the tradeoff is that it cooks much more quickly.
Orange Pecan Farro Salad highlights the best features of farro. Its nutty, earthy qualities pair wonderfully with the baby spinach and toasted pecans. The bacon bits lend a saltiness that is nicely balanced by the citrus and white balsamic vinegar.
Note that Orange Pecan Farro Salad is not gluten-free as farro is a type of wheat (a gluten containing grain), so if you have celiac disease or have been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity you should definitely not eat this salad. Some people who try to avoid gluten (myself included) do so because many gluten containing foods cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, which, over time, can contribute to all kinds of health problems. However, farro is considered a low GI (glycemic index) food meaning that it will take longer for your body to metabolize and will not cause your blood sugar to rise too quickly.
Orange Pecan Farro Salad is great as a side dish but mix in some shredded chicken or seafood and you’ve got a complete meal. I can’t wait to continue experimenting with farro. Next on my list of farro recipes to develop is a Farro Breakfast Porridge. Stay tuned!
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice and zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup farrow (pearled)
- 1 – 10 ½ or 11 ounce can of mandarin oranges, drained, juice reserved
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup/2½ ounces toasted pecans, halves and/or pieces
- 4 ounces baby spinach – finely chopped, about 2 cups
- 2 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts
- 2 or 3 slices/1 ounce, cooked, crumbled bacon
- Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, zest, white balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan combine 2 cups of water with the farrow, remaining orange juice, reserved mandarin orange juice/liquid, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Let the farro cool.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the farrow with the pecans, baby spinach, scallions, and bacon. Add the vinaigrette and mix well. Gently fold in the mandarin oranges. Serve at room temperature.
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