When I made this Greek-ish Grain Salad last week, my three-person household devoured it with the exception of one serving left behind in the salad bowl. I opted to finish it off instead of eating my portion of pot roast. It’s the concoction of my salad dreams.

The green salad mix showcases several traditional Greek salad ingredients: cubed feta and cucumbers, fresh mint, hearts of romaine, olives, and a perky vinaigrette. Delicious indeed, but it’s the add-ons that take it over the top. Farro, a grain with ancient roots, is cooked and cooled; it adds chewy texture contrast and sweetness.  Thinly sliced fresh Fresno (red) chili adds a subtle spiciness. A smidgen of minced anchovy adds a spark of umami.

The recipe is adapted from “Where Cooking Begins” by Carla Lalli Music (Clackson Potter, $32.50), last year’s James Beard Award winner in the General Cooking category. Enjoy.

Greek-ish Grain Salad

Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings


1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more if needed for seasoning

1 cup (semi-pearled or pearled) farro

1 bunch green onions, trimmed, cut into thin slices (include half of dark green stalks)

Optional: 1/2 to 1 red medium-spicy chili, such as Fresno, thinly sliced, seeds removed if less heat is desired, see cook’s notes

1/4 cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced

1 unpeeled small English hothouse cucumber, cubed

8 black Cerignola olives, smashed, pits removed, see cook’s notes

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces block-style feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice

Freshly ground black pepper

2 romaine hearts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips

1 cup fresh mint leaves

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Cook’s notes: Fresno chilies are often confused with the jalapeño peppers but have thinner walls and often milder heat. Supermarkets with large produce sections often stock them. I used whole pitted ripe green olives (from a can); it was a “pandemic substitution” that worked out fine.


1. Bring a large pan of water to a boil on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and farro; reduce heat to a brisk simmer, and cook until al dente, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and spread out on a rimmed plate or rimmed baking sheet to cool.

2. Meanwhile in a large bowl, combined green onions, chili, and vinegar; season with a good pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside for about 10 minutes.

3. Add farro to green-onion mixture, along with anchovies, cucumber, and olives. Toss to coat, then add olive oil and feta; gently fold together. Taste and add salt and pepper.

4. Just before serving, add romaine and mint; toss gently to combine.

Have a cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at cathythomascooks@gmail.com

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Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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