Nutty, chewy farro, pan roasted cauliflower, curls of parmesan cheese, and sauteed red onions all topped with a creamy tahini lemon dressing! Now that’s a winter salad which will fill you up and keep you warm on a cold day. This salad is wonderful warm right out of saute pan and still great the next day straight from the fridge when you’re hungry for lunch and can’t wait a minute longer.
Yes, yes, I did eat this plate of Mediterranean farro salad the moment I was done taking photos while it was still warm and yummy. And I did eat the leftovers cold straight from the fridge the next day. I’m not even sorry! I will say that it is at its peak when its warm and fresh, so dig right in as soon as you toss it together, but it is certainly a great lunch dish the next day as well. 😉
Ever since I used farro in my Caesar salad bowl recipe, farro has become my new favorite grain! I love its nuttiness and chewy texture, and I love how it easy it is to cook some up. The pasta method of using plenty of salted water gives me perfectly cooked farro every time!
I do need to be careful that I don’t overdo it and make farro too often, since I don’t want there to be a household revolt by those who miss their rice and pasta. 🙂 But I think this salad is a great use of farro and worthy of being put into our regular dinner rotation. I’m always interested in winter salads to use the produce available this time of year and give us a different spin on our vegetables.
Last year I shared a some great, winter salads – such as my Brown Rice and Lentil Salad and my Winter Romaine Salad, and I’ve already posted our long time favorite Cauliflower and Green Olive Salad this year.
But you can’t have enough cauliflower salads, can you?
No! Of course not! Especially when they are full of all the great flavors this one has.
The secret to this salad, other than the yummy chewy farro, is to brown the cauliflower.
Browning = flavor!
Just like when you roast up your veggies, giving them a good browning in a skillet is going to transform them and take them to a whole, new level. The moment I turned up the heat on my skillet and changed from braising the cauliflower (which was my first thought for the salad), to browning it I knew I had a recipe worthy of posting here.
I already had the farro (which is simple enough) and the dressing is a great one with wonderful citrus, fruity olive oil, and nutty tahini, but the cauliflower wasn’t pulling its weight. Giving it a good sear changes everything! Just keep an eye on the temperature since you wanted browned and cooked through, not blackened and crunchy.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Warm Mediterranean Cauliflower and Farro Salad
- 3/4 cup pearled farro
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 oz parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Toast farro in a saucepan over medium heat until browned and nutty smelling, shaking the pan occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Cover the farro with water (at least an inch over the farro) and add kosher salt to the water. Bring the farro to a boil and cook until tender but still chewy, 20-25 minutes. Drain the farro into the fine mesh strainer.
- While the farro is cooking, pour the olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium high until shimmery. Add the cauliflower and saute, turning frequently, until crisp tender and browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes. Add the red onion and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes more. The cauliflower should be tender and the red onion should be soft with just a little bite left.
- Mix together the dressing ingredients in a bowl until well blended.
- Take the warm farro, cauliflower, and red onion and toss them with the dressing. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. Top with the parmesan and parsley.
- Keep a close eye on the cauliflower as it browns and adjust the temperature as needed. You want the cauliflower to get a good sear on each side without burning and cook through until it's as tender as you like.
- Shallots make a good substitute for the red onion.
- Don't skip the tahini! It is a very important part of the dressing.
- If you like a milder garlic flavor in your dressing, cook the garlic for about 30 seconds in boiling water before mincing it for the dressing. I usually throw it into the farro and then scoop it out to use.
- Taste the farro when you think it's done. If it's still too chewy, give it a couple more minutes.