Tis the season for outdoor entertaining and with it that dreaded request to “please bring a side dish.” Maybe it’s just me, but I find being a guest in the winter is far easier than being a guest in the summer. In the winter, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine, makes any host happy. In the summer, when I’d rather be reading a book in the hammock, it seems that hosts have the same idea and consequently, ask guests to get a little more involved.
I share this observation not to get myself scratched off from every guest list this summer (although after reading my first paragraph, I’m starting to get a little nervous), but instead to advise you to start thinking about a recipe or two that will be your go-to side dish over the next couple of months.
Potato salad or macaroni and cheese should be scratched off your list unless yours is the very best. These dishes show up in mass at potlucks and will invariably be compared and contrasted by your normally charming friends. People have opinions about things like macaroni and cheese. Serious opinions – steer clear.
No, for the summer cook-out circuit you need a dish that will truly shine while requiring very little time away from the hammock for you. May I present this Farro Salad with Bell Peppers and Olives for consideration?
Farro has popped up more and more recently. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s trendy and for good reason. It has a chewy texture and a wonderfully nutty flavor. The New Food Lover’s Companion (my copy’s tattered nature reveals its importance in my kitchen) dates the use of the wheat grain Farro (also known as emmer wheat) to 20,000 years ago. First grown in Egypt, Romans were introduced to the grain during their occupation of Egypt and Farro has been part of Italy’s culinary heritage ever since. I don’t know about you, but I think any food consumed for over 20,000 years certainly deserves an audition in your kitchen.
And you won’t be disappointed. This colorful salad is a great way to try Farro. Think of this dish as pasta salad without the pasta. Nutty Farro, crunchy bell peppers, salty olives, and tart lemon juice combine to make a dish that is refreshing, healthy, and beautiful to look at. It also is quite simple to make. Huh. Sounds like the perfect side dish for that upcoming potluck, right?
Farro Salad with Bell Peppers and Olives – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
I adapted this recipe from the recipe for “Bell Pepper and Farro Salad” in The Silver Spoon cookbook.
1 cup Italian pearled Farro, rinsed
4 cups water
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 green onions, ends trimmed, white and green part thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup black olives (preferably oil-cured), pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, more if needed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add the water to a medium saucepan and salt it generously. Bring the water to a boil. Add the Farro and reduce the heat to a strong simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the Farro under cold water to cool.
Add the drained Farro to a large bowl and toss with the diced bell peppers, green onions, garlic, and black olives. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and add to the Farro mixture. Toss to combine and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Taste the salad and add more lemon juice and olive oil as needed. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.