Here is a delicious Farro Salad made with sauteed leeks, apples and walnuts. It has orange and walnut vinaigrette and dried cranberries which gives it a sweet, tart and savory flavor that pairs with a variety of meals. It is so easy to make, vegetarian and can be made ahead.
Why We Love This Recipe
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, or it can be served as a side dish for a potluck party or gathering!
- 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 so it works well at any time of year.
- 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.
This is a great accompaniment to a holiday meal and would pair well with this Roasted Pork Loin. It can also be served as a easy make-ahead side dish at a potluck or large gathering because it is great at room temperature.
Ingredient Notes For This Recipe
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.
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.
The vinaigrette for this salad is made with walnut oil which can be found in the oil and vinegar section of large supermarkets and health food stores. If you cannot find it, use olive oil instead and this recipe will still be delicious!
How To Make Farro Salad
Step 1: Cook The 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 so keep an eye on your farro as it cooks. Just make sure it doesn’t boil dry by adding additional water if necessary. If the farro is cooked and there is still water in the saucepan, just drain the excess water off by pouring it through a mesh sieve.
Step 2: Sauté the Leek in Walnut Oil
Cook the leeks in some of the walnut oil but the key is that you don’t want it to get too hot because walnut oil has a low smoke point. 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.
Step 3: Make The Orange and Walnut Dressing
- First grate the zest from an orange, and scrape it into a bowl.
- Whisk in ½ cup orange juice. You can use fresh or bottled.
- Add in a little cider vinegar to add more acidity.
- 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.
- Add in the oil, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
Step 4: Mix Farro and Leeks Into The Dressing
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.
Step 5: Add The Remaining Ingredients
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 at room temperature.
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.
Make Ahead Notes
- 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 24 hours. 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.
FAQ And Expert Tips For This Recipe
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. 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 it is not unpleasantly crunchy.
No it is not gluten-free. Farro is a relative of modern wheat and contains gluten.
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.
Remove the dark green parts of the leek.
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.
Cut the leek again lengthwise for a dice, or leave it as is for strips.
Cut the leek crosswise into strips (or dice.)
Float the chopped leek in a bowl of cold water and swish it around to break up the layers and remove the dirt.
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.
You can watch how to clean a leek on youtube.
More Make Ahead Recipes
- For Thanksgiving, you can make this Cranberry Sauce with Orange up to five days ahead.
- My Wild Rice Salad and this Mediterranean Quinoa Salads are great whole grain salads to try as well!
- Don’t miss this Chickpea Salad either! It is our new favorite around here.
- 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.
- This Easy Sweet Potato casserole can be made one day ahead.
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup can be frozen for up to two months in advance or refrigerated for four days ahead.
- 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.
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Here is a tasty Farro Salad made with apples, walnuts and sautéed leeks with a sweet and tart orange and walnut oil dressing. This is great served warm or at room temperature, so it makes a great recipe for entertaining.
3 cups water
1 ½ cup pearled farro* See Ingredient Note
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Walnut oil or extra-virgin olive 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add in apples, celery, walnuts, cranberries (or cherries) and Stir to combine. Serve warm, or chill up to 12 hours before serving.
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.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 296
- Sugar: 10 g
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 41
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 6 g