Farro Salad with Chickpeas and Marinated Artichoke Hearts

It’s fun to experiment with all the different grains that are available to us these days. A couple weeks ago, we made a farro salad for a large event and it was a hit for so many reasons.

Farro has wonderful taste and texture – a little like barley, but it’s a larger grain with a nutty flavor.  The salad was a breeze to make and because farro doesn’t harden when refrigerated, we could make it a day in advance and let all those great flavors meld.

This is the kind of salad that could take on all kinds of switch ups and adornments: a handful of spinach or arugula, shreds of basil, cubes of mozzarella, slices of rare beef tenderloin….we could go on!  And best of all, it travels well to picnics and concerts.

Ingredients for the salad:
1 small red onion or half of a large onion, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups semi-pearled farro
1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

Ingredients for the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil (or oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese (optional)
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the onion in a small bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.

Bring 2 ½ cups of water and the salt to a boil in a heavy 2-quart Dutch oven.  Add the farro.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the farro is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Drain off any unabsorbed liquid.
(Or cook in a rice cooker or instant pot for easiest preparation).

Combine the artichoke hearts, chickpeas and sundried tomatoes in a medium serving or storage bowl.  Toss in the farro and the onions with any unabsorbed balsamic vinegar.

To make the dressing, in the bowl used for the onion, combine the olive oil, Romano cheese (if using), lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley.  Toss the dressing into the salad.  Add salt and pepper to taste, plus additional lemon juice if needed.  Serve or refrigerate.

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