There’s nothing like the grounding, refreshing experience of eating fresh herbs. Add some briny olives and texturally-pleasing, plump farro grains to the mix and you’ve got the beginnings of this simple salad.
Inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe, this easy dish comes together in minutes and feels nourishing, tastes interesting, and is infinitely riff-able. Even in its simplest form, it is accessible, delicious, and just the right amount of healthy.
Health Benefits of Fresh Herbs
Not to be outdone by other leafy greens, herbs pack more vitamins and minerals ounce per ounce, and boast an array of antioxidants and compounds known to prevent cancer, improve circulation, soothe indigestion, fight bacteria, and more.
In this recipe, parsley offers vitamins A, C, and K which support eye health, immune system, and bone health, among other benefits. Parsley has antibacterial properties and has even been cited as a protectorate against chronic diseases.
Mint contains more vitamin A, as well as iron, manganese, and folate, in addition to antioxidants. Mint it known to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and indigestion and may even improve brain function and memory.
Herbs have been used medicinally as well as in the kitchen for centuries in different cultural contexts across the globe. Check out this great resource if you are interested in adding more herbs to your diet but aren’t quite sure where to start!
What is Farro?
An ancient precursor to modern day wheat, farro has roots which trace all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, at least 20,000 years. A whole grain boasting robust flavor and nutrients, farro comes in several varieties and in several different forms.
Farro can be:
- Pearled, for shortest cook time and softer texture
- Semi-pearled, or partially pearled
- Whole, for more flavor and nutrients but longer cook time
Health Benefits of Farro
Farro contains a higher plant-based protein content than rice, plenty of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals like zinc, iron and magnesium in addition to contributing rich, nutty characteristics. Some folks even toast their farro grains before cooking in order to bring out complexity and deepen present flavors.
Due to farro’s high fiber content and nutrient-packed nature, eating this grain may even help to keep one feeling full longer, as well as bolstering cognitive function, heart health, and slowing down the liver’s conversion of sugars to fats, giving the body a chance to catch up and burn the carbs. As such, it is a great staple for folks who may be trying to lose weight or consider their long term health.
It is important to note, however, that while farro is a relatively healthy grain, it is not gluten-free. Farro is an excellent healthy choice for folks watching liver function, memory and brain longevity, and heart health, but not for those who are celiacs or gluten-intolerant.
Assembling Ingredients and Prep
This recipe is all about prep! I sliced my shallots finely on a mandolin before mincing to increase uniformity, crushed my olives with the flat side of a knife and coarsely chopped them, gently simmered my farro until tender, and chopped my herbs and serrano peppers. The collards were sliced into thin ribbons and sautéed briefly in oil until glossy and tender. Everything gets thrown into a bowl with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of high-quality olive oil and…
…then it’s time to eat. This recipe is best eaten fresh, but will last covered
in the fridge up to 3 days.
Spicy Briny Farro Salad
- 1 cup farro, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups green olives, pitted, crushed, and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 1 serrano pepper, cut into thin rounds.
- juice of 1 medium lemon
- 2 Tbs olive oil, for sauteeing
- 3 large collard leaves, stemmed
- 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Rinse farro in a colander and drain. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to low, simmering for about 30 minutes, or until farro is tender but still maintains structural integrity. Drain any excess water and allow farro to cool.
- Meanwhile, crush and chop olives and herbs, and set aside. Mince shallots and slice serrano pepper, and place in a small bowl. Add lemon juice to the shallots and pepper and stir. Set aside.
- Slice stemmed collards into thin ribbons. Heat first measurement of oil in a pan over medium heat, and add collards. Stir and cook until greens are coated and begin to wilt, 3-5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine cooled farro, olives and herbs, shallots and pepper, collards, second measurement of olive oil, and any desired pepper. Stir to combine and serve immediately. Best if eaten within three days, and keeps covered in the fridge.