This simple summer salad is easy to prepare, and gets most of it’s flavor from our fresh fennel and fennel fronds. Basil makes a great compliment to fennel’s licorice like flavor, but depending on what’s in your CSA box you can also use parsley, or even just the fennel fronds. Cook the grains ahead of time for a very easy weeknight dish. Definitions and opinions on farro vary, for this salad look for farro or whole spelt or wheat, sometimes labeled spelt or wheat berries. Check the label for cooking directions, I use a 1:3 grain to water ratio with good results. Soaking overnight is recommended for shorter cooking times. You can also cook grains in a pressure cooker or rice cooker. For a pressure cooker follow the directions for your pressure cooker. For a rice cooker the 1:3 ratio should work fine. For a gluten-free version of this salad use short grain brown rice. Once the grains are cooked and cooled. The grains should be a little chewy for a chilled salad. Dice the fennel. Chop about a tablespoon of fennel friends for the salad.
Stack the basil leaves together, roll tightly, and slice in strips.
Place cooled grains in a mixing bowl, add fennel, basil, and fennel fronds to the bowl.
Mix the salad with olive oil, lemon, red wine vinegar, and salt + pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add parmesan just before serving. Tip: I always buy a large wedge of parmesan or pecorino and grate it before using. It keeps for a long time, and is much cheaper when you buy it this way. To shave parmesan, use a vegetable peeler.
Fennel Farro Salad
1 1/2 cups farro, wheat, or spelt cooked and cooled (for a gluten-free version use short grain brown rice)
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 tablespoon fennel fronds reserved from bulb, minced
handful of basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt + pepper
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
Toss grains with fennel, fennel fronds, and basil leaves. Add remaining ingredients except parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add parmesan to the salad just before serving.