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Almond, Farro and Black Bean Salad

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Each of us have dishes we consider to be “comfort food”.  When I know I need to prepare foods ahead of time for an upcoming event, I assemble ingredients to make a big pot of soup for family meals and a large container of Almond, Farro and Black Bean Salad… just for me.  I first saw the original recipe in our local newspaper about a year ago and was intrigued when I read it but knew that some changes were needed to make it workable for me.  My first modification was to omit the use of the juice and zest of a large lemon which would have made the salad far too acidic for me.  Instead, I used 2 tablespoons of Serrano honey vinegar to add a bit of “tang” to the dressing without as much acidity.  Instead of draining the cooked farro, I added the small amount of remaining liquid to prevent the salad from becoming too dry.  Another change was in the amount of farro in the salad. The original recipe only called for 1/3 cup of farro, but I felt that increasing the amount of farro would make the salad more filling, while also adding additional protein.  I first made the recipe with 1/2 cup farro, but found that 1 cup of farro expands the salad’s body and texture.  My final revision was in the addition of small amounts of vadouvan, cumin and za’atar.  These savory spices join with the vinegar and oil to lend a unique flavor not achieved by merely using salt and pepper.  I strongly encourage you to add them to your spice collection and promise that once you experience their aroma and flavor, these spices will begin to appear in many of your existing recipes!
I hope you will enjoy this salad, and please share your ingredient variations with me.  Bon appetite!
Almond, Farro and Black Bean Salad
(adapted from a recipe developed by the California Almond Board)
makes 8 servings

2 ounces slivered almonds
1 cup farro, rinsed and drained, and prepared according to package directions
(Gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet or buckwheat can be substituted for the farro.
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame or Lima beans, thawed
⅓ cup diced red onion or 2 to 3 tablespoons dried chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2  tablespoons Serrano Honey vinegar
2 teaspoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard
½  teaspoon vadouvan
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon za’atar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped (from approximately 25 stems of cilantro) Can substitute an equal amount of fresh parsley.

Put the slivered almonds in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, approximately 3 – 4 minutes, stirring often.  Remove almonds from pan to cool.

Using the now empty sauce pan, add the amount of water specified on the package for the farro or other grain being used.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the farro or chosen grain, cover, and reduce heat to allow the grain to simmer until most of the water is absorbed, approximately 15 to 18 minutes for farro.  (It should be noted that at this point, the original recipe recommended draining the cooked farro to remove excess liquid.  I have found that this makes the left-over salad somewhat dry after being refrigerated.  I prefer including the small amount of remaining cooking liquid to the other ingredients along with the farro.)

While the farro is cooking, blend the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, vadouvan, cumin, za’atar, sea salt and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the toasted almonds, drained black beans, thawed edamame, onion and garlic.  Then, add the cooked farro and combine with the other ingredients.  Stir in the chopped cilantro and toss gently to blend all ingredients with the dressing.
This salad can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  I often eat it as a main dish by pairing it with 2 – 3 tablespoons of my favorite hummus and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

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2 Responses to “Almond, Farro and Black Bean Salad”

  1. Mary V. Compton Says:

    Oh thanks so much for sharing this…. I look forward to making it…..YUM!!!

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks so much, Mary V. I enjoyed this salad today for lunch…paired with carrot hummus, roasted beet spread (my next recipe to post)and a small amount of coarsely shredded Parrano cheese. Probably sounds like a strange combination,but the flavors blended beautifully!