Farro and Winter Salad

Post by Paula Jahn, Dietitian and Co-owner at Nourish Northwest

In the winter, I tend to preach against eating salad. Salad has a broad definition, so let me clarify. I mean to avoid the ones made of papery, delicate leaf lettuce and “fresh” tomatoes. Leaf lettuce grows wonderfully here in the Northwest in the summer. But in the winter, it is shipped from warmer climates, is often bitter, tough and often more expensive.


Salad in the winter to me means a trip to the bulk section of the grocery store. It means grains, beans, quinoa, winter squash, hearty greens like kale and chard and maybe some toasted seeds or shreds of cheese.  Eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold, winter salads are undoubtedly meal salads.


This salad is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’s Butternut Squash and Farro with Honey Harissa Dressing. Farro, also known as emmer, is an ancient form of wheat that was one of the earliest domesticated crops in the Near East. There are indications of humans consuming farro as early as 17,000 B.C., even before the advent of agriculture.

Cooked, steaming farro. Nutty, chewy and hearty.


Farro is not gluten-free, but it is lower in gluten than other forms of wheat. It tends to be more easily digested than the ubiquitous form of wheat that makes up our sandwich breads, pastas and pastries. This is because the standard type of wheat used in this country is bread to have an exceptionally high gluten content. Some people with a relatively mild gluten sensitivity find that they can tolerate small amounts of farro.

The other ingredient that I often put into winter salads is roasted winter squash. I used butternut squash here, but you can use kabocha, acorn, delicata, hubbard–any squash that’s good roasted.

Peel the butternut: Chop off the neck and slice downward with a sharp knife.


Roasted butternut squash, a winter staple.


Honeycrisp apple adds a sweet crunch to the salad.

Chop the apple, mix the dressing and toss everything together. This is a perfect salad to bring to work the next day!

The finished product. So good!

Farro and Butternut Squash Winter Salad

(Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)


1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾” cubes

1 1/2 cups uncooked farro

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1 honeycrisp apple, unpeeled and diced

1/2 cup pepitas, toasted

2 Tbs olive oil olive oil

1 small shallot, minced


1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp honey

1 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce (available in the international foods section)

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the edges are browned and squash is fork-tender. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth or water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the farro, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until faro is chewing but tender. Strain and set aside.

Sauté shallot over medium heat in a little olive oil until translucent.

Make the dressing: Combine olive oil, citrus juices, and honey. Whisk in cumin and chili garlic sauce vigorously before adding the shallot and herbs. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cooked farro, roasted squash and diced apple. Cover with dressing and gently toss before serving. Top with toasted pepitas and feta cheese.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.