Here is a simple and delicious Farro Salad made with sauteed leeks, apples and walnuts. It is so easy to make, vegetarian and can be made ahead. That means it’s pretty much a one-way ticket to winning the Hostess with the Mostess Award this season. {Aside: Sadly as far as I know there is no such award, but if there was, you’d want to have this recipe.}

overhead of farro with apple

This post is sponsored by La Tourangelle Artisan Oils. All opinions expressed here are my own. I was compensated for my time.

Why This Farro Salad is Great For Entertaining

Having this Farro Salad at the ready in your apron pocket is so helpful because:

  • It can be it can be made ahead so you can focus on last minute details and your guests.
  • The flavors of orange and walnut goes with pretty much everything you want to serve on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  • It’s vegan friendly, so if you have any guests who are vegan, you’ll have a hearty option to help fill their plates.
  • It’s good warm, cold or room temp.
  • Leftovers are delish for lunches.
  • It’s super simple to make! More on that below!
  • It’s made up of high fiber farro, vegetables and fruit and heart healthy walnut oil so it is both festive and nutritious.

Tablescape with Farro Salad with walnut oil

What Is Farro?

Farro is an ancient grain and an ancestor/relative of modern wheat. It has been cultivated in Italy for centuries. It’s recently become popular in the US because of the upsurge in interest in incorporating more whole grains into our diets. Though it seems confusing, whole Einkorn berries, Emmer Wheat berries and Spelt berries can all be labeled as farro and used interchangeably.

In Italy, the word farro is pronounced with a soft “ah” sound. Here in the US, it is common for the “a” sound to be hard, though many (myself included) pronounce it with a soft a. I found this collection of farro pronunciations fascinating.

Farro can be sold with the hull as whole farro or pearled (or semi-pearled), so you’ll want to make sure to check your packaging or the labels on the bulk bins for cooking instructions. For this Farro Salad I used pearled farro, and it cooks in 30 minutes. If you have whole farro, make note that you’ll have to soak it overnight.

 

How Do You Cook Farro

How to Cook Pearled Farro:

Cooking pearled farro is a lot like cooking rice. You can actually do so at a ratio of 2 parts water (or borth) to 1 part pearled farro. Bring them to a simmer in a good heavy bottom saucepan, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is chewy but not hard. This takes about 30 minutes, though some varieties can be slower or faster. Again, make sure to read the label.

Also note that stoves vary greatly. My stove in my studio has a simmer setting that allows me to turn it way down to the point where it is just bubbling. I’ve also worked on some electric stoves that have low settings that are so low they cant even hold a simmer. So keep an eye on your farro as it cooks. Just make sure it doesn’t boil dry. It is quite forgiving actually. If you do end up adding extra liquid and it becomes tender, just drain the excess water off  by pouring it through a mesh sieve.

 

How to Cook Whole Farro:

For whole grain farro, set it in a large jar or bowl, then cover it generously with cold tap water and let it sit overnight. This will soften the bran on the outside of the grain, and make it so that it cooks more quickly. Simmer it as above, but it will take a little more water and a little more time. Add 1/2 part extra water and 10 minutes more.

 

What If You Don’t Know What Kind of Farro You Have:

In that case, you’ll want to inspect the grains to see if it has a papery hull attached. If it is pearled or semi pearled it will have a softened look to it, and rounded tips. Like it has been tumbled around a bit (like barley.) If it does have the hull, soak it overnight.

Also if you don’t know what kind you have and you’re not sure how long to cook it or how much water to use, you can cook the farro as you would pasta or lentils, and then drain it through a fine mesh sieve. After the first 15 minutes, just test to see if it is done every 5 minutes by popping a grain into your mouth. Cooked farro is quite chewy, but but it is not unpleasantly crunchy.

Farro Salad with Walnuts overhead with a votive candle

Making The Walnut Dressing

This Walnut Dressing is made with La Tourangelle’s award winning walnut oil, which happens to also be the object of an ongoing obsession of mine. I have it many times a week because I love the flavor, and that it is high in polyunsaturated fat and Omega 3s and may help fight inflammation.

  1. First grate the zest from an orange, and scrape it into a bowl.
  2. Whisk in ½ cup orange juice. You can use fresh or bottled.
  3. Add in a little cider vinegar to add more acidity.
  4. Honey helps to balance the sour tastes of the dressing and adds a heady floral flavor as a banknote to the farro salad. If you, or someone at your table, is vegan, just substitute maple syrup or agave.
  5. Add in the oil, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

That’s all there is to it. If you like to get a head start on cooking when you’re entertaining, this is one of the steps you could do a full week ahead and store the dressing in a jar. Just warm it up in a warm water bath if it becomes solid.

Farro Salad with orange dressing

How To Make Farro Salad

While the farro is simmering that’s when you can do all the prep for the salad. Since it takes a half hour to simmer the farro, you have more than enough time to cut the leeks and sauté them, dice your other veggies and the apple and make the dressing.

How to Clean The Leek

  1. Remove the dark green parts of the leek.
  2. Cut the root end off the leek and then cut the leek lengthwise. This exposes the layers of the leek, where all the dirt likes to hide.
  3. Cut the leek again lengthwise for a dice, or leave it as is for strips.
  4. Cut the leek crosswise into strips (or dice.)
  5. Float the chopped leek in a bowl of cold water and swish it around to break up the layers and remove the dirt.
  6. Once the dirt has fallen to the bottom of the bowl, lift the leeks out of the water and set it on a paper towel lined plate to dry.

Sauté the Leek in Walnut Oil

Walnut oil has a slightly lower smoke point (remember when we talked about smoke point for this chicken and veggie stirfry) than high heat cooking oils so it is best to use it for medium-high or lower heat cooking. It’s also great for baking or for finishing dishes.

I used it to cook the leeks here but I didn’t want it to get too hot. So I just swirled the oil in the bottom of the skillet and added the leeks. Then I set the pan over the heat and let the leeks and oil come up to temperature together. This prevents the leeks from burning (which is easy to do because they are so thin) and it helps to preserve the nutty walnut flavor and ensures it won’t hit its smoke point.

 

Mix The Salad Together

Once the farro has finished cooking add it and the leeks to the dressing and stir it all together until the leeks and farro are coated in the dressing.

Next add in the rest of the goodies: diced apples, celery, walnuts and dried cranberries. Stir it all very well to coat the goodies in the dressing.

You can serve it immediately while it is still warm, or you can let it come to room temperature. Or you can make it all the way though, and refrigerate it for 8 hours before serving.

Note that the leftovers actually last for three days, and taste terrific, but the apples will start to brown slightly after 8 hours.

 

How To Make Farro Salad In Advance

  • You have loads of options here my friends! (Remember what I was saying about this being the key to winning the hostess with the mostest award? Listen to this!)
  • First of all, as I said above, you can make the dressing and keep it in a jar in the fridge for a week ahead.
  • You can prepare the whole salad through the point where you toss the leeks and farro with the dressing. Let that cool, then store it in the fridge for a day. Note: Once it is cold, you can snap the lid closed on your resealable container, but don’t do that when the mixture is still hot.
  • You can also add in the apples, celery, walnuts and cranberries up to 8 hours in advance. Stir it all together, cover and refrigerate. The acidity of the orange juice dressing will coat the apples and prevent them from browning for up to 8 hours. After 8 hours the apples will darken a bit, but they will still taste great.

Farro Salad from the side

More Make-Ahead Holiday Recipes For Entertaining

  1. For Thanksgiving, you can make this Cranberry Sauce with Orange up to five days ahead.
  2. This Green Bean Casserole with fresh green beans and cheddar cheese is one of my most popular Thanksgiving and holiday recipes, and can be made one day ahead.
  3. This Easy Sweet Potato casserole can be made one day ahead.
  4. Roasted Pumpkin Soup can be frozen for up to two months in advance or refrigerated for four days ahead.
  5. If you have out of town guests and you’d like to make something ahead for breakfast this Cranberry Apple Breakfast Casserole is a great option.

If you would like to learn more about La Tourangelle Artisan oils, make sure you check them out on Instagram or Facebook.

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review. It is so helpful!

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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Farro Salad from overhead close up

Farro Salad

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Farro Salad made with apples, walnuts and sautéed leeks with a sweet and tart orange dressing with apple cider vinegar and La Tourangelle Walnut oil. This is great served warm or at room temperature, so it makes a great recipe for entertaining.


Scale

Ingredients

3 cups water

1 ½ cup pearled farro* See Ingredient Note

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon La Tourangelle Walnut oil, divided

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced and cleaned

Zest from 1 orange

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey (or agave or maple syrup to make it vegan)

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

2 large apples, diced

¾ cup finely chopped celery stalks (preferably with leaves)

½ cup toasted chopped walnuts

1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries


Instructions

  1. Bring 3 cups water, farro and ½ teaspoon salt to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Swirl 1 tablespoon oil in a large unheated skillet. Add leek and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are tender and just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Whisk orange zest, orange juice, cider vinegar honey, pepper, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Add the cooked farro and leeks and stir to coat.
  4. Add in apples, celery, walnuts, cranberries (or cherries) and serve warm, or chill up to 12 hours before serving.

Notes

Ingredient Note* Farro can be sold with the hull as whole farro or pearled (or semi-pearled), so you’ll want to make sure to check your packaging or the labels on the bulk bins for cooking instructions. For this Farro Salad I used pearled farro, and it cooks in 30 minutes. If you have whole farro, make note that you’ll have to soak it overnight.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 296
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 6 g

 

Farro Salad made with apples, walnuts and sautéed leeks with a sweet and tart orange dressing with apple cider vinegar and La Tourangelle Walnut oil. This is great served warm or at room temperature, so it makes a great recipe for entertaining. #thanksgiving #christmasrecipe #farrosalad #farro #healthyseasonal #healthysidedish #sidedish