Recipe: Farro & Arugula Salad with Pistachios

Recipe Farro Arugula Salad PistachiosI’m sure you already have this on your calendar, but Friday is World Pistachio Day. In case you were hemming and hawing over what to make to celebrate the occasion, I’ve got you covered. I kept seeing variations of salads using two of my favorite ingredients, farro and pistachios, popping up, but since I was intrigued by all of them but not 100 percent inspired by any of them, I decided to create my own variation, partly based on what I already had on hand (necessity is the mother of invention).

But first, a nutrition interlude: Pistachios have the seconds highest polyphenol and flavonoid content of the tree nuts, and two studies have shown that eating in-shell pistachios enhances feelings of fullness and satisfaction while reducing caloric intake. This is likely because when you shell the nuts yourself, it draws out the process and forces you to be a little more mindful. How much of a difference may this make? When eating in-shell pistachios, study subjects ate about 40 percent fewer  nuts compared to when they were given pistachio kernels that had already been shelled for them. Fascinating.

My biggest sources of inspiration were Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad, which came from The New York Times, and Farro with Pistachios, Mixed Herbs and Golden Raisins, which came from Bon Appetit. I also threw in a few elements of a tabbouli recipe I used to make all the time. If I made this in the summer, I might through in some halved cherry tomatoes (a la the Charlie Bird recipe) and quartered Kalamata olives, take out the dried apricots and swap in fresh basil for some of the herbs.

 

Farro & Arugula Salad with Pistachios

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 small bay leaves, or one large
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts (chopped or whole, depending on your preference)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves (or two big handfuls)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped herbs: parsley, cilantro and mint (it’s fine without the mint, too)
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, salt, bay leaves and three cups water to a simmer. Continue to simmer uncovered until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a bit more. If the farro is done but there is liquid remaining, pour off the excess. Let the farro cool, then remove the bay leaves.
  2. In a medium or large salad bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk to mix. Add the farro, pistachios and feta cheese and stir to mix well. Just before serving, fold in the chopped herbs, arugula and additional salt (if needed).

Note: If making ahead, wait to add the greens, herbs and additional salt. The rest of the farro/nut/cheese mixture will hold well at room temperature (for up to 4 hours) or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving).

Second Note: There was some leftover, and when I had it for lunch the next day I felt it held up well. The herbs still tasted very lively and the arugula was not wilted.