Have you ever made a grain bowl at home and fancied yourself a chef? Your fridge was filled with a mishmash of leftovers, including a grain. You roasted up some veggies, whipped together a vinaigrette, maybe added a protein (or a fried egg) and voilà! You just made dinner, a grain bowl of arguably Sweetgreen quality, without even using a recipe.
While this beet and farro salad may look and read like it’s your average $12 grain bowl, we’re going to argue that it’s not. And we’re going to argue that it’s better. For starters, we followed a recipe to make it. We did happen to have some leftover farro, but all the other ingredients we purchased purposefully. It’s also a little bit more nuanced. There are intentional flavor notes, including the classic (not cliché!) combination of beet and goat cheese. And this recipe requires 2 super useful and applicable cooking skills: roasting beets and cooking farro.
The impromptu grain bowl for dinner is undeniably satisfying. Given the time and money you spend making your grain bowl, the deliciousness payoff is proportionally high. But with this beet and farro salad, and the little bit of extra work that goes into making it, you’ll be reaping longterm rewards.
- 2-3 medium or small beets, with or without their greens (we substituted blanched beet greens for arugula)
- 1 cup farro
- 1 cup apple cider (optional)
- salt, to taste
- 2 TBS sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, pureed (minced works too)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup broken walnut pieces (optional: toasted)
- goat cheese, crumbled (to your liking, we did about 4 oz)
- couple handfuls arugula
- 1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, oregano, mint (optional)
- Before getting started, note that the beets, farro, and salad dressing can all be made separately and in advance! And the salad itself can also be made ahead, so long as you don’t mind pinkish farro. It arguably tastes better the next day.
- Roast your beets. It’s much better to buy whole, fresh beets and roast at home (they are currently in season in New York) than buy those packaged, pre-roasted beets at your supermarket. Preheat your oven to 400°F. If your beets still have their greenery, cut off the tops so you just have a short, squat stem. Scrub your beets and wrap loosely in aluminum foil, individually. Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet and then in the oven. Roast until a fork or skewer slides easily to the center of the beet, 50-60 minutes. Let cool and then remove skins by rubbing with your hands or a paper towel. If skins are tough to come off, the beets need a bit more cooking time. Cut your beets into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- While beets are roasting, cook farro. We opted for the Charlie Bird Farro Salad method, to give our farro a little bit more flavor, though you can cook with water. Farro is a trickier grain and can come out tasting a bit bland or chewy. If you choose to cook with water, be sure the add aromatics (at the very least, salt). You can soak ahead, though we’ve never found this necessary. For one cup farro use about 3 cups water and after bringing to a boil, expect to simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep simmering until farro is tender and add more liquid if necessary. Similarly, you can drain any excess liquid at the end of cooking.
- While the farro is cooking, beets are roasting, you can make the vinaigrette. In your salad bowl, whisk together vinegars, mustard, and garlic and then the oil. Add the farro, beets, walnuts, goat cheese, arugula, and herbs. Toss together until fully incorporated. You can serve this salad warm or at room temperature.
Details: Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main. Great leftovers!