When I walked into the kitchen to make lunch, I thought I was going in to make some penne with a cilantro and walnut pesto. But then I got lazy, and what I ended up with is actually way better than that pasta dish would’ve been. Quicker than making pasta, I just pulled out some leftover cooked farro that was hanging out in the fridge. Instead of hauling out the Cuisinart to make pesto, then cleaning the Cuisinart (those of you with small kitchens and no dishwashers feel me), I pounded the walnuts roughly with the mortar and pestle, chopped up the cilantro with a knife, and made up a simple dressing with oil and lemon. Oh, and there were also some greens that were about to go bad, so I threw those in too. Bada-bing bada-boom, there was lunch.
As you can see in the recipe below, making your own salad dressing is sooo easy, and so much healthier than store bought. I encourage you to double the amount in the recipe, and use it on your other salads. Try adding finely chopped herbs or ground spices, a drizzle of honey, or a little yogurt to customize it to your liking. And I love the fresh, grassy taste that the flax oil brings, as well as all those much needed omega-3′s. Make sure you’re buying your flax oil fresh, from the refrigerator section, and always keep it in the fridge. This is one oil that’s very delicate and can go rancid quickly. Also, you could sub another oil (walnut comes to mind) or just use more olive oil.
This salad would be great for traveling, or making ahead. Just prepare each ingredient and store them all separately until it’s eating time. You can also turn it into a full meal by adding some browned tofu or chickpeas. Goat cheese or feta would be a great substitute for the mozzarella. And for you vegans out there – just leave out the cheese, it’ll still be great.
Farro Salad with Walnuts and Cilantro
1/2 c. raw walnuts
3 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
2 T. olive oil
1 T. flax seed oil (or other oil)
a few big handfuls of salad greens
2 c. cooked farro*, room temperature
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
Toast the walnuts by spreading them evenly into a dry skillet, and heating them on medium heat until brown and fragrant. Stir or toss a few times for even browning. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and pound them into small pieces (or you could just chop them). Set aside.
Combine lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oils. Or you could put all the dressing ingredients into a jar (I use an old salsa jar) and shake vigorously until emulsified. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing in and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving dish. Using the same bowl, combine the farro and most of the pounded walnuts, cilantro and cheese. Add a few more tablespoons of dressing and mix well. I ended up having a little dressing left over, but use however much you like.
Place farro mixture on top of greens, and garnish with the rest of the walnuts, cilantro and mozzarella.
serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side
* To make 2 c. cooked farro combine 2 c. water, 1 c. dry farro and a pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain any excess water.