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Straight and Farro

A lighter grain salad

When Stewart and Heidi Woodman opened Birdhouse in Minneapolis, they put sustainable grains and vegetables at the menu's forefront. For the restaurant's hearty farro salad, executive chef Ben Mauk employs a trio of green--peas, leeks and pistachios--to leaven the nutty grain. The result is a robust dish laced with flavor, ideal for a summer picnic. At the restaurant, Mauk offers a roast leg of lamb as an addition to the salad, turning it into a full-blown dinner. At Birdhouse, grains reign, but there's no bird food in sight.

Farro Salad with Peas, Leeks and Pistachios

Recipe adapted from Ben Mauk, Birdhouse, Minneapolis

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Cook Time: 35 minutes


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup farro

2 cups water

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

½ cup toasted pistachios

1 leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

¼ cup sheep's-milk skyr or plain Greek-style yogurt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh or frozen peas, blanched

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped tarragon leaves


1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the farro and stir to coat. Continue stirring until the farro is lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the water and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the farro is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and spread the farro out on a baking sheet to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until fragrant and toasted, 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the leek and shallots and cook until the leek is tender, about 5 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the skyr and lemon zest and juice. Season with pepper. Add the farro, leek-shallot mixture, peas, scallions, pistachios and tarragon and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Test Kitchen Approved

We collaborate with a lot of talented chefs and tinker with everything in our test kitchen. Our goal is to make sure every recipe works as well in your home kitchen as it does in ours. So go on, cook with confidence.


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