A Stellar Farro Salad From Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird's farro salad.

Could farro salad be the new couscous salad? You certainly see it often enough on menus and at fancy takeout shops to make the case. But like with its cousin couscous, farro salad can be hit or miss. Sometimes it’s a deeply flavored, multi-textured delight. Sometimes it’s dull and bland.

But that’s not the farro’s fault. This hardy, earthy grain has plenty of flavor if you treat it right. And to do so isn’t hard.

There are two essential steps to a stellar farro salad. The first is cooking the farro with enough salt and aromatics so that it is delicious before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. The second is to use enough very good olive oil in the dressing. Farro is one of those good-for-you grains that needs plenty of rich treatment to overcome its healthful profile. But if you do both of these things, it really doesn’t matter what other cheese, vegetable, fruit or nut you add to your salad bowl. With this foundation, you’re guaranteed a terrific result.

Case in point: the chef Ryan Hardy at Charlie Bird in SoHo cooks the farro for his salad in apple cider seasoned with bay leaves and plenty of salt, which renders it good enough to eat on its own. But it’s even better after he adds loads of olive oil, plus pistachio nuts and Parmesan cheese to make it even richer. Then, before serving, he folds in fresh vegetables to brighten it up: juicy tomatoes, radishes, arugula and plenty of herbs.

It’s everything you want in a farro salad. Or a couscous salad, for that matter.

Recipe: Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad

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