Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Herbed Farro and Chickpea Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

It is the first day of Spring!  Visions of farmer's markets, CSA shares, and herb seedlings perched in the windows are dancing through my head and yet, here in Colorado it is still too early for local produce.  Soon we will all be inundated with so many salad greens, spring onions, fiddleheads and asparagus spears that we won't know what to do with them, but for now we are patiently waiting...

But no matter, you can still make a dish that invokes the spirit of Spring using some of our friends from the late-winter produce family.  This wonderfully fragrant salad is bright with the flavors of blood orange and meyer lemon.  The farro is cooked in aromatic Herbs de Provence and tossed with locally-grown carrots (one of the few Colorado items available right now!) and sweet, chopped spinach.  The ensemble makes for a light, wholesome, and decidedly springy dish that is sure to cure your Spring Fever, if only for a day!

Herbed Farro and Chickpea Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
serves 6

3/4 cup Farro
3 cups water
1 T Herbs de Provence
cups cooked chickpeas
2 large carrots, shredded
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane (or very finely minced)
Juice of 1 medium blood orange
1 tsp. meyer lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 meyer lemon
1 T D'Anjou pear vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized pot, add farro, water and herbs de provence and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, slightly, to maintain a low boil and cook, uncovered, until tender and fragrant, about 20 minutes.  Drain farro in a colander and toss with a handful of ice cubes to cool the grains down.  Set aside.

Assemble the dressing.  In a small bowl, add the garlic, citrus juices and zest, vinegar and mustard.  Whisk ingredients together.  Continue to whisk and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture so that it emulsifies.  Season with salt and pepper.

Toss remaining salad ingredients together in a large bowl and add as much dressing as desired.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  You may serve immediately, or, for a better depth of flavor, allow to chill for several hours before serving.  Garnish with citrus slices, if desired.

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