Farro salad with leeks and peas

A versatile grain salad you can customise with the seasons.

Farro salad with leeks and peas

One good thing about the popular revival of the so-called ancient grains is that it’s made them much easier to find. I used to have to hunt down farro at the one Italian deli I knew carried it; now it’s at the supermarket. While there are lots of interesting ways to cook with farro, keeping it simple and building a salad around it, as we’re doing here, allows its taste and texture to shine.

This is a versatile recipe: swap out the vegetables as the seasons change, tailor the simple vinaigrette dressing by using different vinegars or adding fresh herbs, or move it from side salad to centrestage by adding prosciutto, or perhaps some crumbled feta or slabs of grilled haloumi.

Farro salad with leeks and peas


Serves 2.

1 medium leek
200g (1 cup) farro
125g (1 cup) peas
1 tablespoon olive oil

for the dressing:
15ml (1 tablespoons) apple cider vinegar
45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

Trim the leek into a log of the white and pale green part. Slice lengthways into quarters, and chop into 1cm (scant ½-inch) pieces. Rinse well under cold running water in a colander and leave to drain.

Bring about a litre (4 cups) water to the boil in a heavy-based pan and stir in the farro. Reduce to a simmer and partially cover. After 20 minutes, check (by tasting) to see if it’s tender. (Some farro cooks in 20 minutes, while some can take up to 40 minutes). Once cooked, drain well and spread out on a baking sheet to dry.

Blanch the peas in rapidly boiling water for 1 minute after the water returns to the boil. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat and add the leeks, cooking them gently until soft and translucent.

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, vinegar and mustard in a screw-top jar and shake until well mixed. Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad by combining the farro, peas and leeks in a roomy bowl. Add the dressing a tablespoon at a time, tossing gently but thoroughly – the farro will absorb the dressing thirstily, so keep going until the salad is well dressed. Taste for salt and adjust as required.

If the salad needs to be stored, it (and the dressing) will keep for two or three days in the fridge. Let it come to back to room temperature and use the leftover dressing to freshen it up before serving.