I saw a photo of spring pea farro salad from What’s Gaby Cooking on Instagram and I had to make it. I actually wanted to make it the very day that I saw it except that I don’t live in Los Angeles, and our farmer’s markets are open yet, and there are no spring peas or pea shoots to be had in the mountains in April. And I almost couldn’t find farro. It’s ok, though. I persevered. Anything for a good meal.
If you are not familiar with farro, it is a nutty wheat berry grain that is absolutely delicious in salads. One of our favorite restaurants in town makes a spinach and farro salad with mint that I can’t stop ordering. This spring pea farro salad looked promising as a replacement for the million dollar restaurant version. I finally found the farro in the grains section of my grocery store, near the millet and wheat germ. Weird placement, I agree, but if you can’t find it near pasta or rice or quinoa in your grocery, try the cereal aisle.
Now that you have your farro, you’ll need to cook it. Easy. It is just like cooking rice, only you drain the excess water out at the end. Like rice, farro expands when cooked so one cup of uncooked farro can feed a lot of people. The recipe for this salad did not include a yield. I followed the measurements pretty closely and fed five adult eaters and two little eaters with leftovers for lunch the next day (plus I tossed some of the dressing and greens with brown rice instead of farro for my gluten-free eater). This makes a pretty substantial salad for sure.
Since I could not track down fresh peas or pea shoots, I skipped the blanching technique used in the recipe and sautéed my asparagus and frozen peas in the garlic and red pepper flake mixture. This gave me a vehicle for the nice garlic and pepper flavor but didn’t over cook the vegetables. The dressing was quick to make. I did not have champagne vinegar so substituted white wine vinegar, which worked just fine. The dressing was light but flavorful and complimented the nuttiness of the farro perfectly. I’d say this salad was even better the next day once the flavors had time to set. I will definitely be making this again. I might even plant some peas so that I can make it with pea shoots next time.
(Oh, and PS? We served this with halibut. If you are feeling adventurous, try Halibut en Papillote from Kevin Gillespie's Fire in My Belly. It's awesome.)