There are so many options for summer salads, but somehow I ended up making a new version of the Greek salad. I love Mediterranean gastronomy, and this (and so many lovely others) is one of the reasons we visited many of the Greek islands, and this summer we spent a long holiday in Cyprus.
The olive oil, the fresh vegetables, cooking al fresco, the mint and rosemary scented air, the light, the sea, the sound of cicadas, the chill—everything is a picture of perfection.
This is why, in the summertime, I use the same ingredients and make endless variations of the famous salad. I’m trying to recreate that atmosphere of calm and relaxation that we sometimes forget and let it be absorbed by our daily routine.
My salad is rather a mix of Turkish, Israeli, Italian, and Greek inspiration. The grilled vegetables, the farro addition, the spices—these are all nourishing additions to the classic salad with my own mix of Mediterranean flavors.
The combination of cold, fresh ingredients with the warm ones is very alluring, and this salad can make a meal on its own because it’s filled with whole grains loaded with fiber and protein to satiate you.
Throughout my food experiments, I discovered the secrets of creating epic salads with grains. Despite the fact that they easily absorb the flavours of the ingredients you mix them with, sometimes the result isn’t really satisfying and the salad will be tasteless.
When putting together salads like this one, I follow some basic rules:
– Cook the grains with salt and spices or aromatic herbs, so they taste delicious even before adding them to the salad.
– Combine the grains with fresh, ripe vegetables in-season, organic if possible—the taste of a ripe tomato is dramatically different in summer when it’s in-season and picked from the farmers’ market stalls compared to the taste of a tomato bought in winter from the supermarket.
– Use the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford—it will change things completely.
You can make this salad with any other grain or pulse you prefer—sometimes I add chickpeas or a mix of lentils and bulgur, but maintain the same rules when putting it together to get the best results.
Layered Farro Salad with Grilled Summer Veggies
- 1/2 cup farro uncooked
- 2 tbsp home made pesto
- 17 oz mixed cherry tomatoes yellow and red
- 1 big ripe tomato diced
- 1 red pepper cut into slices
- 1 onion cut into quarters
- 1 celery stalk
- 5 champignon mushrooms
- 1 carrot cut into slices
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup good quality feta cheese
- 1 spring fresh rosemary
- For the dressing
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley finely chopped
- 5-6 leaves fresh mint chopped
- Add the farro grains into a medium sauce pot, add 1&1/2 cups purified water, drizzle olive oil, salt, cumin and the rosemary spring, bring to boil over medium heat, then cover with a lid and simmer over low heat until the grains are cooked, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the grill.
- In a medium bowl add the cherry tomatoes red pepper, onion, celery, mushrooms, carrots, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, cumin and chili, and toss to coat evenly.
- Grill the veggies, then transfer into a bowl.
- In a small bowl mix the dressing ingredients.
- To assemble the salad, pour evenly the dressing into the jars, add a layer of cooked farro, a tablespoon pesto, a few grilled veggies, diced fresh tomato and crumble feta cheese.
- Lid the jar and shake before serving.