Summer is upon us and farmers markets are popping up in all the familiar locations. The produce is super fresh because most of it was harvested the previous evening or that morning. I think its the best way to buy fruit and vegetables because not only do you get the freshest goods for prices that are lower than supermarkets; you are also supporting local farmers and the local economy. Farmers markets are also good for you because you eat more fresh vegetables and fruit. Just don’t go stand in the line for crepes with bananas and Nutella, dusted liberally with powdered sugar. Yeah, they have those at the market too. I will leave you to guess if I frequent those lines, haha.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up early and hit the market close to home. My haul was plentiful – intensely fragrant strawberries, bright green fava beans, aromatic chives, green onions, etc etc and this beautiful bunch of radishes.

20160614_141640519_iOS

I thought of this farro salad when I saw the radishes. This salad is perfectly suited for summer time when you want something cool, a bit sweet and bursting with flavor and textures. Next to the farro, radishes are the star of the show and add gratifying crunch factor. This salad is a great make-ahead dish that carries a lot of wow factor for little time investment. If you are making it ahead, just combine the cooked farro and vinaigrette and refrigerate it. Toss in the nuts, vegetables, cheese, basil before serving.

Did I also mention farro is health food? I hope this recipe will dispel the myth that health food needs to be swallowed by holding your nose and not tasting it. Farro is an ancient grain, closest to wheat, and has a lot of good things said about it. High in fiber, 7g of protein per 1/2 cup uncooked farro, full of beneficial minerals and vitamins. It cooks pretty quickly and is chewy and nutty in taste.

This recipe is my interpretation of a recipe I found on the New York Times, and combines cooked farro with pistachios, radishes, cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese with a simple lemony vinaigrette and is topped with fresh basil leaves. The apple juice used in cooking the farro when mixed with the salty parmesan gives this dish a very floral, vanilla-ey taste. I can’t explain it more than this, just try the recipe and you will see. Leftovers will be great for the lunch box.

Serves 2, as a main dish
Ingredients:
1 cup farro
2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
2 bay leaves
1.5 tsps salt
8 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shaved parmesano reggiano
fresh basil leaves for garnish

Method:
Combine the farro, water, apple juice, bay leaves and salt in a pan. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 30 minutes until the farro is done and the liquid has evaporated. Stop yourself from stirring or poking (!) the farro until the mixture cools a bit. Discard the bay leaves before tossing the salad together. Let cool for about 10 minutes. 

For the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice until emulsified. Add a pinch of salt to it. Combine farro with vinaigrette. Add in the pistachios, radishes, tomatoes. Toss to combine. Serve topped with shaved parmesan and torn basil leaves. Adjust salt if necessary. If you like to spike up your food with black pepper or red pepper flakes, feel free to do so. Although I will add that while this salad can tolerate black pepper, it is too delicate for red pepper flakes.