Confetti Garden Vegetable Farro Salad

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(Note: this post was originally published on September 6, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

Harvest Season

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!

Colorful farro salad from above, with scattered pine nuts

Choose Your Own Veggie Adventure

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.

Colorful farro salad from above, with a dish of pine nuts

Lots of Serving Options

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.

Make-Ahead Tips

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.

Colorful farro salad with radicchio and grapes

Let's Talk Ingredients

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.

  • Red wine vinegar. If you don't have this, Champagne vinegar would work great. A white balsamic could work too, but I don't suggest dark balsamic since it will turn everything brown.
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse-grained dijon mustard. Learn to make your own here- it's easy!
  • Maple syrup
  • Thyme leaves. I prefer fresh since they have a better texture (= less crunchy), but dried is fine if that's what you have.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Farro. My greatest love!! This salad would work nicely with barely too, or wheatberries if you have the patience to cook them. But farro is just so darn good, I really recommend getting your hands on it if you can.
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots. Ideally of different colors for more of a confetti effect.
  • Radicchio
  • Grapes. I'm currently infatuated with mini Champagne grapes; they're delicious and so perfect for this salad since they're small and add to the confetti effect. If you can't find them, regular grapes (I'd get purple) are fine, but you might want to cut them into quarters.
  • Fresh basil
  • Pine nuts. Almonds could work well too, although they're much bigger and won't have quite the same effect.

Colorful farro salad from above, with a serving spoon

Closing Thoughts

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!

Colorful farro salad from above, with a serving spoon

Share It!

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.

Suggested Pairings

Ginger Bee's Knees

Green Goddess Hummus

California Harvest Salad

Loaded Mediterranean Salad

If Green Beans Went to Southern Spain

Confetti Garden Vegetable Farro Salad

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.

Author:
Lee

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • 0.25 c red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp robust, flavorful olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coarse-grained dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Generous grind of salt and pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 c uncooked farro
  • Small zucchini
  • Few carrots, ideally of different colors
  • Half a small head of radicchio
  • Couple bunches of miniature Champagne grapes
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Small handful of pine nuts

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients together and stir well. Give it a taste and adjust as you see fit.
  2. Cook the farro. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt the water generously, add the farro, and cook about 15 minutes until tender. Drain in a fine-mesh colander.
  3. While the farro is cooking, use a box grater to grate the zucchini and carrots. I prefer to scoop the seeds out of the zucchini first, but either way is fine.
  4. While the farro is still hot, put it in a large mixing bowl with half of the salad dressing and stir. This will help the farro absorb the flavors of the dressing. Set the other half of the dressing aside.
  5. Also while the farro is still hot, add the grated veggies (zucchini and carrots) and give it all a good toss. Adding them to the hot farro will soften the veggies just a bit (without you having to bother with cooking them!).
  6. Let the salad cool to room temperature, or put it in a sealed container in the fridge for later. You can do all of the above a up to a day in advance.
  7. When you're ready to serve, cut the radicchio into thin ribbons and toss it into the salad.
  8. Plate your salad on a platter or in a serving bowl. Garnish with grapes, fresh basil leaves, and pine nuts. Serve the remaining dressing on the side for drizzling on individual portions.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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Pamela
January 8, 2021
I love the chewy texture of farro, and even better, it cooks in a fraction of time compared to wheat berries. This was a nice combination of textures and flavors, especially the pop of sweet juice from the grapes.