Friday, March 4, 2011

Farro Salad with Fennel and Dandelion Greens

Farro, an ancient (and delicious) grain, is similar to spelt, but with a chewier texture when cooked. It's used in Italian food, both whole, in soups and salads, and ground, to make a wonderful whole grain pasta. In this salad, I first boiled the farro in plenty of salted water until tender-chewy. While it was cooking, I made a simple dressing with lemon juice and a tangerine"agrumato" extra virgin olive oil, which is made by pressing the olives together with citrus fruits, to flavor them with the essential oils. Great stuff--I had just a bit left in the refrigerator, so I said to myself, "why not?" As soon as the farro was done, I drained it and stirred it into the dressing to absorb some of the flavor as it cooled.

Then I cut the fennel in half, brushed it with olive oil and grilled just until nicely marked, but still raw. To assemble the salad, I drained the farro over a bowl to collect the dressing, added some cut dandelion greens to the bowl, tossed to coat, and then lifted them out with tongs and made beds on the plates. A little dressing remained in the bowl, so I sliced the fennel and some red onion and tossed them in it, adding the farro and some lightly chopped fennel fronds. Then I just made little mounds on the dandelion beds and drizzled any last bit of dressing over the top. Yumm-a!

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