Honey and Harissa Farro Salad

When I received the The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas this year, I couldn’t wait to dig in. Deb Perelman’s blog by the same name is one of my favorites. A self-described self-taught, obsessive home cook, Deb remarkably does it all from a 42-square foot galley kitchen in New York City. One of her standing beliefs is that there’s no such thing as a bad cook; only bad recipes. And in my experience, the recipes she posts on her blog are consistently easy to follow and result in great tasting food. She also has a wonderful sense of humor and a truly engaging style of writing.

Over the weekend I tried Deb’s recipe for Honey and Harissa Farro Salad from her new cookbook. I was intending to bring it to a birthday potluck, but at the last minute, the party was cancelled. Nevertheless, we put the salad to good use—devouring leftovers day after day. I love the flavor and texture of the salad, and it’s healthy and filling enough for a meal.

This was the first time I’ve used Harissa (a Tunisian hot chili sauce), which I found at Willy Street Co-op. Its uniquely spicy flavor was a great addition to the salad. I doubled the original recipe because I figured if I was going to go through all of the effort of chopping and roasting vegetables, I might as well make it worth my while. And that it certainly was. Trust me, you’ll be happy to have leftovers.

Honey and Harissa Farro Salad (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook; serves 8 to 12 – doubled from the original version)

Farro
2 cup uncooked farro
8 cups water or broth

Vegetables
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound carrots (about 8 medium)
2 pound (about 4 large) parsnips
Salt

Dressing
10 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon harissa, or to taste
2 teaspoon honey
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
A few pinches of ground cumin
Salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 cup (8 ounces) crumbled feta

In a large pot, bring the farro, water or broth, and a few pinches of salt (if using water or unsalted broth) to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the farro until tender, for about 15 to 20 minutes. If extra water or broth remains, drain it. Set the farro aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by coating each with one tablespoon of olive oil. Peel carrots and parsnips, and cut them into 2-inch lengths, and then lengthwise into matchsticks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheets and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven. After 20 minutes, remove the pans from the pans from the oven to stir, and then return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, seasoning to taste with salt. Use more harissa if you’d like more heat. In a large bowl, combine farro and roasted vegetables. Stir in most of the mint and feta, leaving a bit of each for garnish. Stir in dressing, to taste. Serve, garnished with the reserved feta and mint.

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