Deputy Editor Miranda Crowell, a serious grain-bowl devotee, took on Farro Tricolore with Balsamic-Fig Dressing—and fell for this highly customizable recipe.
Why this recipe? I'm a grain-bowl junkie (blame Pinterest). And I couldn't resist the combination of sweet figs and mozzarella with virtuous greens and grains.
What was it like to make it? This recipe is just my speed: All the ingredients were easy to find ("emmer farro," by the way, is available in any respectable bulk foods aisle). It requires no special knife skills; it only dirtied a few dishes; and I could prep everything while the farro cooked, with time to spare. I even learned something--though it may be 101 level-stuff to more experienced cooks: Soaking radicchio in ice water mellows its bitterness.
How did it turn out? The combination of flavors (earthy-sweet-cheesy) and textures (soft-chewy-crunchy) was great, but the radicchio, even after soaking, took over the show.
Will I make it again? Yes, and in fact I did. The second time I made it, I doubled the figs (four seemed like a sad turnout) and cut the radicchio even thinner and soaked it longer, and the balance was just right. The best part about the dish: After you make it once, you almost don't need the recipe—it's easy to improvise to your liking.
Would I bring it to a picnic? Yes, but only if I were certain that The Picnic's more gluttonous Lemon Lavender Creme Pots—you'll see them in an upcoming post—would also be there for dessert.
FARRO TRICOLORE with BALSAMIC-FIG DRESSING from The Picnic
"Sweet figs, crunchy walnuts, and creamy mozzarella make for a tremendously satisfying whole-grain salad, which features emmer farro, an heirloom variety of wheat berries."
3/4 cup emmer farroFine sea salt2 sprigs fresh thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme1/2 small head radicchio, cored and cut crossways into 1/2-inch-thick strips4 dried Mission figs, finely chopped1 garlic clove, minced3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1 teaspoon honey1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted4 cups baby arugula leaves6 ounces ciliegine (cherry-size) mozzarella balls, halved
- Put the farro in a medium saucepan with 3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the 2 thyme sprigs. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, partially covered, until the faro is tender but still quite chewy, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool, then drain again. Discard the thyme.
- Meanwhile, soak the radicchio in a large bowl of ice-cold water for 45 minutes to 1 hour to remove some of the bitterness and make it crisp. Drain and dry it well.
- Put the figs and garlic in a small bowl and pour in 1/4 cup steaming-hot tap water to barely cover. Set aside until cooled, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, the chopped thyme, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the fig mixture and stir to combine.
- Combine the farro and the dressing in a large bowl. Add the radicchio and walnuts and mix it all together. Toss in the arugula and mozzarella just before the picnic.
Excerpted from The Picnic by Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker, and Jen Stevenson (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2015.