HOUSTON – If you want to save time during busy weekdays, you can make ahead delicious summer salads with grains from the pantry.
Ronda Carman, lifestyle journalist and author of The Art of Pantry Cooking: Meals for Family and Friends, stopped by Houston Life with two of her favorite recipes using Italian farro.
Farro is a pantry staple that’s easy to cook and can be dressed up with a great variety of ingredients, including fresh fruit and vegetables from the refrigerator.
“Since writing the book I discovered HEB’s 10 min quick-cook farro. I love that it saves time. I toast the farro in the oven before boiling it because it adds a layer of rich nuttiness. And in place of water, you can use a vegetable or chicken stock to cook the farro,” said Carman, a native Houstonian who in 2019 was named to the Salonniere 100, a list of America’s best party hosts that also includes Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, and Houston’s own Lynn Wyatt.
To see Carman’s complete recipe and tips, watch the video above.
Toasted Farro Pesto Salad
• 4 cups cooked farro
• 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
• 1 tablespoon store-bought basil pesto
• 1/3 cup salted and toasted sunflower seeds
• 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup 2-percent Greek yogurt
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups marinated artichokes hearts, packed in oil and quartered
• One 5-ounce package of baby arugula
• 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely shredded
• Preheat the oven to 375°F.
• Spread the farro onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside.
• Cook farro according to the package directions. If there is any remaining water, drain it from the farro and set it aside. Allow the farro to cool to room temperature.
• Add the spinach, pesto, sunflower seeds, grated Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 15 to 20 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil until it is incorporated. Add yogurt and pulse to combine. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl.
• Add the cooled farro to the bowl and mix with the pesto to combine. Gently stir in tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Divide the arugula between four plates. Top with finely shredded cheese.
Watermelon and Farro Salad
• 2 cups cooked farro
• 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
• 2 cups fresh seedless watermelon, cubed
• 2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
• 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
• Preheat the oven to 375°F
• Spread the farro on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
• Combine 2 cups water, the farro, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain any water from the farro and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
• In a salad bowl combine the watermelon, tomatoes, mint, and basil. Add the farro and toss.
• In a small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, shallot, lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Top with feta and serve.
FOR A SAVORY VARIATION:
You can pair the farrow with cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and spinach pesto for a savory salad.
The Art of Pantry Cooking: Meals for Family and Friends is available now everywhere where books are sold.
You can also see her recipes on her YouTube Channel Exploiting the Pantry
Recipes provided by Ronda Carman.