A whole grain salad chock full of fruits, vegetables and nuts may not be most people’s first thought when “comfort food” is uttered, but if you've grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s with parents who love to garden, cook, and shop at the local Co-op, interesting salads are pure nostalgia of family suppers past.
I am not kidding when I say that we had (and still have, on visits home) a salad of some sort--fruit, vegetable, leaf, or whole grain--at almost every evening meal (Kevin can attest to this--on his first visit to my parent's home, he thought it was a fluke, perhaps a celebration of summer produce; a second visit at Christmas quickly disproved the notion).
One of the salads in my mother's rotation was (I should say "is," as she still makes it) a simple Waldorf salad, comprising apples, raisins, celery, and walnuts. I loved it--still do--despite the fact that it had a mayonnaise dressing (I loathed the stuff as a child; still not a fan to this day). But she used a very light hand so that the everything was lightly coated.
This riff on her Waldorf came about the other night out of necessity; I had not planned dinner, so I defrosted some chicken to grill and, after perusing the pantry, noticed I had about a cup of farro on hand. Seveal apples were sitting in the fruit basket, so it didn't take long to settle on my Waldorf theme. I skipped the mayonnaise in favor of fresh lemon juice and olive oil, and based on what I had, used cranberries and pecans in place of raisins and walnuts. The delectable results belie the simplicity of the dish.
There's no need to search for farro to enjoy this salad: brown rice, spelt, wheat berries, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, or pearled barley would all work harmoniously with the other ingredients here. Whatever your choice, it is salad comfort, guaranteed.
Kamut Waldorf Salad
Makes 6-8 servings.
1 cup farro or pearled barley
2 medium tart-crisp apples (e.g., Gala, Braeburn, or Honey Crisp), peeled, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
In a medium pan of salted boiling water, cook the farro 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Drain and spread on baking sheet to cool completely, then transfer to a medium bowl. Add the apples, celery, cranberries, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper, tossing to combine. Chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Toss in pecans just before serving.
Other recipes you might like:
no recipes: Farro-Roasted Cauliflower Salad
smitten kitchen: Mediterranean Barley Salad
sunday suppers: Farro Salad
farmhouse table: Roasted Squash and Farro Salad with Feta
joy the baker: Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Farro Salad