Farro and Spring Vegetable Salad with Feta
To get a head start on this recipe, do some of the prep the night before. Make the parsley-mint dressing, clean the sugar snap peas and peel the carrots (they’ll keep in water or damp paper towels overnight in the refrigerator). The next day, use a mandoline to quickly slice the fennel and asparagus. Your efforts will be well rewarded with an amazing dish that showcases springtime vegetables at their freshest.
For the parsley-mint dressing:
- 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the salad:
- 6 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups farro
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 cup English peas
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup diced Meyer lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch strips
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh lemon juice, to taste, plus 2 Tbs.
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and very thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch baby carrots, preferably mixed colors, tops trimmed to 1 inch, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 bunch asparagus, very thinly sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
- 2 to 3 oz. tender pea tendrils
- 4 oz. French feta cheese, crumbled
To make the dressing, using a sharp knife, shave off the tops of the parsley bunches, removing only the leaves and leaving the larger stems behind. In a blender, combine the parsley leaves, mint, garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice, the 1 tsp. salt and half of the olive oil. Turn the machine on low, then quickly increase the speed to high and pour in the remaining olive oil. Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. The dressing should be thick but still pourable. If it is too thick, add more olive oil, 1 Tbs. at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and lemon juice. You should have about 1 cup dressing. You will need about 1/2 cup for this recipe; refrigerate the rest for another use.
To make the salad, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the farro and cook, stirring, until the grains are lightly toasted and coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Add 10 cups water and the 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender and just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain the farro and transfer to a baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the English peas and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to the ice water, then drain and dry on paper towels.
In a large bowl, combine the farro, mint, diced lemon, sugar snap peas and English peas. Spoon 1/2 cup of the dressing on top and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and add more dressing, olive oil and lemon juice as needed.
In a separate large bowl, combine the fennel, carrots, asparagus, the 2 Tbs. lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the pea tendrils.
Spoon the farro onto a large platter. Arrange the fennel mixture on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 6 to 8.
Recipe by Chef Suzanne Goin.