Grain salads are a great lunch or side dish. Grains are very nutritious, and full of fiber so they are satiating. Add in some colorful vegetables, sweet and chewy dried apricots, crunchy walnuts, and a zippy vinaigrette, and it makes a dish that is both beautiful and exciting for the palate.
For this recipe I recommend using farro or barley. Both provide nice chew, flavor, and plenty of nutrition. The cooking time and method for these grains depends on the particular type you are using. Pearled or semi-pearled grains have some of the grain removed and cook up faster. Follow your package directions if provided. It is important to rinse both beforehand to remove the excess starch so it’s not sticky. Also make sure to salt your water for the best flavor. When in doubt on the best method, cook like pasta and just check periodically for doneness. You want them to have a nice chew and not turn into mush.
This dressing has a high ratio of vinegar to oil because I think it balances nicely with the grains, carrots, and apricots. If you are not a big fan of acidity, consider cutting the vinegar down to 1.5 ounce and increasing the oil to 2.5 oz. The garlic also provides a nice bite, and could be halved for a more mild flavor.
Roasted Carrot and Grain Salad (Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side)
- 1 cup dried farro or barley
- 4 carrots, peeled, and cut into 1/4 in wide and 2 inch long pieces on a bias
- One shallot, peeled and sliced
- 1 T Fresh thyme
- 1 T plus 2 oz olive oil, divided
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 2 oz sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp stoneground mustard
- 4 oz dried apricots, chopped
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F. Cook farro or barley in salted water until it is has a pleasant chew, but not mushy. This will depend on the particular type you are using. When it is done, drain off excess water if there is any left, and spread on a parchment covered sheet pan to cool.
- Toss carrots and shallots with 1 T of olive oil. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes until the carrots have some color and are tender. Remove from oven and cool at room temp.
- Drop heat of oven to 350F. Toast walnuts for 5-6 minutes.
- Combine 2 oz of olive oil, 2 oz sherry vinegar, minced garlic, and mustard in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup to make the dressing. Add a sprinkle of salt. Whisk to combine.
- When the grains and carrots have cooled off for at least 15 minutes, toss grains, carrots, walnuts, dried apricots, and dressing together. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- This salad is best served while slightly still warm or at room temperature, but leftovers are also good cold. Just before serving add arugula and toss it into the salad.