Chewy, full of umami and totally satisfying…this Italian farro salad with arugula is just what you need. Inspired by the flavours of Italy, nutty farro pairs with fresh cucumber, rich sun-dried tomatoes and zippy arugula in a mellow red wine vinaigrette. If you’ve already got cooked farro on hand, you’ll have this healthy vegan salad ready in about 10 minutes!
I hate to be a cliche, but I love a good salad. Which is why there are plenty of salad recipes in my cookbooks Good For Your Gut and Eat More Plants. And my favourite type of salads are ones that eat like a MEAL. So, adding whole grains like farro to your favourite salads is a wonderful way to make them even more filling and satisfying. Plus, the dietitian in me loves that farro adds plenty of fibre as well as plant-based protein to make your salads even more nutritious.
This Italian farro salad with arugula combines two plants I don’t think we eat enough of: arugula and farro (what, you were expecting me to say broccoli?). Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable that doesn’t get nearly as much press as its cousins broccoli or cauliflower. It’s got more personality than baby spinach or baby kale and yet is just as convenient and pre-washed. And farro is an ancient whole grain that – as long as you don’t have celiac disease and can tolerate gluten – is a nice change from the usual rice-quinoa-noodles routine.
How to cook farro
If you’re one of those people who is always reminding herself of the correct grain:water ratio for all of these grains, you need this tip: cook it pasta-style! That’s right, you don’t need to measure the water. Instead, cook your farro with these simple steps:
- Bring a medium pot (or large pot, depending on how much farro you want to cook) of water to boil on high heat.
- Add the farro, salt the water if you wish, and turn heat down to medium low. Cover, with lid ajar.
- Check to ensure that it’s bubbling a bit as it cooks and adjust heat as necessary as everyone’s stove is different. Cook for 30-40 minutes until it is al dente: cooked but with plenty of chew.
- Drain and rinse
Don’t have time to cook grains like farro, wheat berries or brown rice on a weekday? Repeat after me: batch cook + freeze!
I batch cook most of my long-cook grains like farro and wheat berries because I do NOT have time to cook them from scratch during the week. Instead, I make way more than I need for a single meal. Maybe 2-4 cups of dry grain. I cook them pasta style in a large pot. Then, after draining, I spread them out on a large parchment lined rimmed baking sheet to come to room temperature before popping the tray into the freezer! Once frozen, I break up the grains and transfer to a freezer bag for quick meal starters that I don’t have to worry about forgetting in the back of the fridge.
If you’ve got frozen grains in the fridge, just rinse 3 cups of cooked farro under some hot water and this salad will come together in just 10 minutes.
How to make this Italian Farro Salad, step by step
- If you haven’t already, cook the farro, bring water to a boil in a medium pot and then add 1 cup of dry farro and turn heat down to medium low. Cover, keeping lid ajar.
- Check after 30 minutes, you want the farro al dente. So it still has a firm chew but is pleasant to eat which make take up to 40 minutes. Drain and rinse and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, shake up the dressing in a jam jar: add olive oil, red wine vinegar, grated or crushed garlic, oregano, salt, sugar and pepper. Fasten lid and shake away!
- Finally, add diced cucumber, cooked farro, sundried tomatoes and red onion to a salad bowl. Toss salad with dressing, sprinkle with vegan parmesan, if using. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and enjoy!
Italian Farro Salad storage, tips + substitutions
- This salad keeps well, covered in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
- Farro has a tendency to absorb moisture and flavour, so if leftovers taste a bit flat, spruce them up with a squeeze of lemon juice or a bit of extra salt.
- Don’t have farro on hand? Try cooked wheat berries or barley instead!
- Can’t have gluten? This salad would be nice with millet too.
- Store-bought vegan parmesan is great in this recipe…but have you ever made your own vegan parmesan from almonds? Next level!!
Looking for more yummy farro recipes? Try this!
Italian Farro Salad with Arugula
This Italian farro salad with arugula is chewy, tangy and packed with umami. It makes a light yet satisfying plant-based meal on its own or a wonderful side dish salad at home or on a picnic.
Italian Farro Salad with Arugula
- 1 cup dry farro, or 3 cups cooked
- 2 cups diced cucumber
- 2 cups packed arugula
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan, make your own or try Violife brand
Red wine vinaigrette
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, micro grated or crushed
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Fresh cracked pepper
Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Add farro and turn heat down to medium low, with lid ajar, and simmer until al dente, about 30-40 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, to a jam jar, add the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, sugar and pepper. Shake well and set aside.
In a large salad bowl, combine farro, cucumber, arugula, sundried tomatoes, and red onion. Toss with vinaigrette, and sprinkle with parmesan. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy!
This makes a great light meal for 3-4 people! Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.