Bringing lunches to work can be tough. I enjoy dinner leftovers, so on the days I have those, I’m golden. But, I only cook dinner with leftovers maybe 1-2 times per week. The remaining days, I have to buy lunch (which I usually try to limit to once a week), or figure something else out. And I am so NOT a sandwich girl. I mean, I can be a sandwich girl…if the sandwich has a lot of stuff on it, like cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc. and the bread is toasted. If I were to make that sandwich in the morning, it would be a soggy mess by lunch time.
In the spring and summer particularly, I enjoy grain salads. I usually take my lunch hour to walk (or go to the gym, when I’m feeling extra motivated) and then sit down to eat and work when I get back. Grain salads are great for that purpose because 9 out of 10 times, the last thing I want after walking around for an hour in 90 degree temps is to heat something up for lunch.
Farro is a fantastic whole grain that doesn’t get enough love. We’re currently in the middle of a quinoa lovefest (which is cool, since quinoa is pretty awesome, too), and farro is the wallflower in the background which surely everyone would love if they just give it a chance. Farro, to me, is reminiscent of barley, both in its nutty taste and chewy texture. It’s a bit more convenient, though, since it takes less time to cook.
It should be no surprise to you that this salad has the southwestern ingredients I clearly love. (For the record, I did make a Greek brown rice salad the following week, though.) It’s vegetarian, but still has protein from the farro and beans, and both do wonders for keeping you full, too.
I’ve seen a lot of recipes where the farro is soaked, but I’ve never done it myself, and I’ve not experienced any ill effects. Normally I cook farro in the same way I do white rice, but this time I decided to make it the same way I make brown rice, and it worked beautifully.
A random note: I started adding our weekly menu plan to the sidebar of my blog last week. I’ll try my best to keep it updated, and hope it gives you some ideas!
Southwestern Farro Salad
1 cup dry farro, rinsed
1 tsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and diced (or 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved)
2 oz. shredded Monterrey Jack, pepper Jack, or cheddar cheese
handful of chopped cilantro (optional)
1 small jalapeno, finely minced
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp. light sour cream
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the farro. Cook for 15-20 minutes (it should still have some chew to it). Drain the farro, return it to the empty pot, and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Then, place in a large bowl so it can start to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas and cook 1-2 minutes, or until golden. (Be careful, if your oil is too hot, they have a tendency to pop right out of the pan). Set aside.
To make the dressing, whisk together the jalapeno, vinegar, lime juice, and sour cream. Then slowly add the oil, while continuing to whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To the bowl with the farro, add the pepitas*, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro (if using), and a little salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the farro mixture, stirring lightly to combine all the ingredients and distribute the dressing evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
*If it will be a while before serving, you may want to keep the pepitas in a separate container so they remain crunchy. You can keep them in an airtight container for a couple days.