Upgrade your regular grains with this colorful spring farro salad drizzled with creamy, lemon-tahini dressing.
Sometimes less isn't more. Sometimes more is more. Like when you can't decide between asparagus, green beans, avocado, chickpeas, farro, sunflower seeds, radishes, fresh herbs, and strawberries, so you just toss them all together on one giant platter and call it a day. Know what I mean?
Since I've been developing more recipes for work lately, it's been more challenging to cook on the fly. I'll create a strict grocery list and concoct some master plan for batch cooking and shooting a month's-worth of recipes in one day. Sure, it's nice to be productive, but not when it sucks all the fun right out of it.
So yesterday, I decided to flip the script and create a recipe with only my intuition as a guide. Out came this sort of kitchen-sink salad for spring—proof that sometimes the best way to go about cooking is without any sort of rigid plan.
I say kitchen sink, because this spring farro salad really has it all. Nutty grains, protein-packed chickpeas, and all the spring fruits and veggies. All dressed up in creamy, zesty, homemade, lemon-tahini dressing.
It's a shame I made this just days after publishing a giant spring party roundup. This recipe would've been so perfect for Easter. It's everything you need to feed a crowd.
Oh well. There's always next year. And a whole lot spring left to be had. This farro salad could be reason enough to throw another party before summer hits.
But don't be fooled by appearances. This farro salad is also totally doable for weekdays. Farro (an ancient grain similar to barley) cooks in about 20 minutes, which gives you enough time to steam a bunch of asparagus and green beans and blend up some lemon-tahini dressing to go on top.
This recipe is also completely customizable, so you can use it as a general guide for using up whatever's left in your pantry. Try swapping quinoa for farro, using lentils instead of chickpeas, or tossing in sliced almonds in place of the sunflower seeds. The best things happen when you veer from the plan!
Spring Farro Salad with Creamy Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1 cup dry farro
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound asparagus, chopped into thirds (1 bunch)
- 2 cups green beans
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 tablespoon lemon peel (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 large fruit)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar)
- 3 cloves crushed garlic (about 1 teaspoon)
- Salt and pepper
- 8-10 tablespoons water (see note)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15 ounces)
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds, toasted if desired (see note)
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- Sliced strawberries
- Fresh mint leaves
- Lemon peel
- Black sesame seeds
Prepare the farro:
- Combine farro and broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until farro is tender. Drain excess liquid (if needed), and set aside.
Prepare the vegetables:
- In the meantime, steam asparagus and green beans over medium-high heat 8 minutes, or until vibrant green and tender. Stir in frozen peas and turn off heat.
Prepare the dressing:
- Combine tahini, lemon peel, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic, and salt and pepper in a blender container. Gradually add water, one tablespoon at a time, and blend on high until the dressing is smooth and pourable. Set aside.
Prepare the salad:
- Combine cooked farro, steamed vegetables, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, avocado, and radishes on a large serving platter. Drizzle tahini dressing over the vegetables. Add strawberries, mint leaves, lemon peel, and black sesame seeds, if desired, before serving.