Farro Salad with Mushrooms and Green Beans

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I have been wanting to experiment with farro for quite some time. Of course, when I finally found some farro in the supermarket, I couldn’t remember where I had seen interesting recipes using it.

I wanted a cold farro salad for Shabbos, preferably using the green beans and cremini mushrooms I already had on hand.  A little googling yielded not one, but two Green Bean and Mushroom Farro salad recipes (Closet Cooking and Melissa Kelley in Food and Wine). I went with the recipe that called for roasting the green beans and mushrooms and made a few changes (doubling the amount of mushrooms and roasting the vegetable with balsamic vinaigrette instead of just oil, salt and pepper).

The final salad was intensely savory, with a satisfyingly hearty chewiness from the farro, string beans and mushrooms. The bitterness and crunch of walnuts added a nice counterpoint, but the salad works without the nuts, too.

This is meant to be served cold, but it would also be lovely as a warm pilaf. If you don’t have farro, I think that barley would make a decent substitute, as it has a similar texture. This is something I would definitely consider making for Thanksgiving, as the flavor combination makes me think of the classic green bean casserole.

Farro Salad with Mushrooms and Green Beans
Adapted from a recipe from Closet Cooking. I changed a few things, particularly in roasting the vegetables with balsamic vinegar instead of just the oil. In retrospect, I could have mixed the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, honey, Dijon and garlic to make a dressing and then just put some of it on the vegetables before roasting and some on the warm farro.

12 ounces green beans, cut into 2″ pieces (original recipe called for a whole pound, but I used what I had)
16 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered (cut larger mushrooms in eighths)
1 cup farro
3 Tbl. olive oil
3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced and then mashed to a paste with a tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. honey or agave syrup, optional
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Toss the green beans and mushrooms on a lined baking sheet with the following: 2 Tbl. of the oil, 2 Tbl. of the vinegar, 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper and most of the garlic paste (reserve maybe a 1/2 tsp. for tossing with the cooked farro). Roast the vegetables at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the farro with 3 cups of water for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain off excess liquid. Toss the warm farro with the remaining Tbl. of oil, the remaining Tbl. of vinegar, the mustard, the honey, 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, the reserved bit of garlic paste and salt to taste.

Toss the farro with the roasted mushrooms and string beans. Add the nuts, if desired.

Note: I experimented with topping the salad with walnuts, pecans and sliced almonds. All work, but the strong flavors of the salad really require the more assertive flavor of walnuts. I like Melissa Kelley’s idea of using hazelnuts, though, and plan on trying that in the future.

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