Straight and Farro

A lighter grain salad
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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.

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