Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring has Sprung

It's that brief but glorious time of year here in Northern California when we are still enjoying the last of winter citrus and have fresh spring veggies like asparagus at the farmer's market. This recipe combines both with farro, a delicious whole grain that has become one of my favorites.

Farro and Asparagus Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
4-6 servings for light meal
1 cup farro
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
2 1/2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, from about 1/4 orange
2 tablespoons minced shallot
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, add the farro, 2 teaspoons salt, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Check a few times while it is cooking, you want it to be al dente. Remove from the heat, drain any excess water, and set aside to cool. While the grains are simmering steam the asparagus and make the dressing. Steam asparagus for about 2-5 minutes to cook, depending on size and freshness. As soon as it turns bright green, remove and cover in cool water to chill. Whisk together the orange zest and juice, shallots, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside. Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the farro with about half of the dressing. Add asparagus, arugula and toasted almonds. Toss again, adding more dressing as needed.

This would be great with a little sprinkle of feta cheese on top, but since MO doesn’t like feta this version was vegan.