(Note: this post was originally published on September 6, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Do you ever get buried in random produce during the late summer? We don't even have much of a garden (just lots of stuff in pots on our deck), but the produce overload is real! My parents have a huge garden and share all of their goodies, plus we have a few very generous neighbors who drop off their zucchini, eggplants, and tomatoes. For someone who loves veggies as much as I do, I find this all very exciting since it prompts me to be more creative.
This salad was born due to an excess of carrots and zucchini, neither of which I felt like cooking due to some hot late summer weather. And while both of those things are fine raw, they're not terribly exciting that way. So how can I make raw zucchini and carrots into a satisfying meal?
The answer: grate them! Grating these veggies softens their texture and also helps them to absorb flavor more readily. A few minutes with a box grater might be a bit annoying, but it's much faster (and cooler!) than roasting them in the oven or stir-frying them. Plus they yield all sorts of beautiful, colorful bits, hence I've called this a "confetti" salad!
I've deliberately designed this salad to accommodate any veggies you have on hand that can be eaten raw. To customize this salad, you just need to decide which veggies need a little taming (carrots and zucchini, in my case) and which are delicate enough to be added at the end (radicchio in my case).
In the former category, things like carrots, zucchini, summer squash, beets, cabbage, and kale can all benefit from some extra love. You'll grate those (or chop, in the case of kale) and toss them in with the farro while it's still hot, bathing it all in a vinegar-based dressing. The combination of the grating, heat, and acid gently softens and flavors these harder veggies.
In the latter category, things like tomatoes, cucumbers, radicchio, and other more delicate lettuces are best left alone so that they don't get bruised, wilted, or smooshed. Just cut them up finely and toss them in at the end, once the farro has cooled. Keeping all the veggies the same size will enhance the confetti feel.
Because of this salad's hearty texture (and the fact that the farro contains some protein!), it can function as a main course as well as a side dish. We've enjoyed it both ways, and it really makes for a lovely dinner on a warm September evening. That said, if you want to give it some additional oomph, you could certainly add some roasted chick peas on top or a big dollop of my favorite lemon hummus.
This salad packs great too, since all the ingredients are sturdy. It's a great option for make-ahead lunches, potlucks, and picnics since everything can get jostled around in a container without harm. Sounds like a good excuse for a hike and picnic, doesn't it?? You can enjoy it at room temperature or cold, giving this dish even more flexibility.
You can easily prepare this salad ahead of time, making it really versatile. If you want to go that route, you can cook the farro, grate the veggies, and toss everything in the dressing up to a day ahead of time. Just add any really delicate veggies, the grapes, the basil, and the pine nuts right before serving so they don't get soggy.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
The flavor and texture combinations in this salad are really lovely and interesting. There's chewy and nutty farro, tender summer veggies, aromatic fresh basil, crunchy pine nuts, and some sweet juicy grapes to round it all out. The vinaigrette is both tangy and sweet, and decidedly Italian-leaning in its flavors.
This is the salad to solve all your summer and fall garden over-abundances! Anything that can be eaten raw can end up in here successfully. The more veggies you use, the more interesting your flavors, textures, and colors will be.
We're certainly savoring these last warm days. Summer is short-lived in Vermont, and we really do cherish every bit of it. Hope you're enjoying it too, and soaking up whatever last rays of sun you can find!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Perfect for late summer and early fall, this hearty Mediterranean-inspired salad unites chewy farro with a confetti of seasonal, colorful vegetables. Enjoy it as a side dish, a main course, or a make-ahead-friendly lunch.