About 4 years ago, I went to NYC. I went on quite the foodie adventure while I was there. One of the most memorable was definitely Charlie Bird. And of all the things I tried on the menu, the one thing I knew I *had* to make when I got home was the farro salad. It's seriously good, and I personally think it's the best farro salad recipe out there. I wanted to put a little bit of my own spin on it and make it a bit easier. So here is my version of the Charlie Bird farro salad.
Farro is a high protein, high fibre ancient whole grain wheat. It looks similar to barley, although farro is a larger grain. When cooked it has a good amount of chew.
There are slightly different types of farro. Farro itself is a term that refers to three specific wheat species. Spelt, emmer and einkorn, which are types of hulled wheat. Sometimes the store you purchase your farro at will label them by their Italian name (mine does this): farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer), and farro grande (spelt). For example, mine that I used was farro grande (spelt). There is also whole grain farro which requires longer cooking and even overnight soaking. Semi-pearled farro has part of the bran removed but still contains some fiber; and pearled, which takes the least time to cook, has no bran at all.
Cooking farro is pretty easy and straightforward. Although the cooking time can depend on the type of farro you use (see above) and how long it was sitting out. Usually when I cook farro I like to use a three to one ratio. So for one cup of uncooked farro, I use three cups of liquid. I like to typically cook mine in some kind of broth or stock (usually chicken) but vegetable works too. For this farro salad recipe, I used mainly chicken broth mixed with some water. If you are using stock or broth, be mindful of how much salt you add to the pot of liquid.
The main thing to do is that after about 20-25 minutes of cooking, taste it and see if it's cooked to your liking. It should be chewy still. I personally like cooking it al dente. Once it's cooked to your liking, go ahead and drain it through a sieve and then place it back in the pot (away from the heat) until you're ready to use.
You can check out my healthier farro and lentil risotto with wild mushrooms recipe over here!
It's been about four years since I went to Charlie Bird and had that delicious farro salad. The original recipe calls for tomatoes, arugula and thinly sliced radish. It can also be served with squash as well (maybe they do this in the winter?). Anyways, I made it my own by changing a few things and making it a little easier to make. It's still crazy delicious, and honestly it's one of those salads that I could happily eat everyday.
For my version of the Charlie Bird farro salad I kept the arugula, the parm, the pistachios, the lemon and the flaky salt (duh). If you don't know, I LOVE flaky salt (and salt in general). I'll add flaky salt to just about anything, especially, when baking. Check out my brownie cookies with flaky salt to see! And I used sweet potato because it's easier to cook and more accessible year-round.
If you want to meal prep your farro salad, I have a few ideas to keep it tasting delicious as the days go on. Although if you will be eating it within one day, I personally just throw it all together. I don't find that the arugula gets wilted too much and it's still very enjoyable.
You can store the farro with the sweet potato. Then keep the dressing separate in a small container. Keep the arugula and mint separate along with the toasted nuts. When you want to have some farro salad, simply combine everything together in a big bowl.
Making this salad is relatively easy. While the squash and the farro are cooking, you can easily prep the other ingredients. And once everything is cooked, assembling is super easy.
Preheat your oven and chop your sweet potato into cubes. Toss with some avocado oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until it's cooked through and fork tender.
Once you put the sweet potato in the oven, you can go ahead and cook the farro. Simply combine the farro with the liquid and bring to boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This should take about 30 minutes as well.
While the farro and sweet potato are cooking, you can prepare the add-ins, which is really just slicing some mint and basil. Also, thinly shaving the parm is important too. Sure, you could add grated parm, but it doesn't have the same effect, trust me. So if you can, get some fresh parm and thinly slice that. Nothing beats fresh parm!
If you don't have arugula or really don't like it, try baby kale, or even spinach. But I would encourage you to use arugula. The slightly bitter flavour really works for this farro salad.
The dressing itself couldn't be easier. It's simply a mix of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice with a pinch of salt.
And roughly chop the pistachios, no need to toast them (although you could if you want!). If you can't use or don't have pistachios, I think walnuts could work as well. However, pistachios are a little more traditional for this Italian inspired farro salad.
I really hope you enjoy this healthy, Charlie Bird farro salad. If you're ever in NYC, I highly encourage you to check this place out. The other dishes I had while I was there were the chicken liver mousse (SO GOOD), the suckling pig and osso bucco. The vibe (the hip hop playing in the background) and the wine list are all amazing as well!
If you make my version of this Charlie Bird farro salad, please let me know by tagging me on Instagram. Or you could leave a rating and/or review below! It truly means so much to me when I hear from you.
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My version of Charlie Bird's delicious farro salad with arugula, sweet potato and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
If you want to meal prep, keep the dressing separate from the arugula and farro and toss and combine everything when you’re ready to eat.
To make this vegetarian, use vegetable stock/broth.