But I’ve discovered a different way to get my fill of the fresh and fibery at this time of year: whole-grain salads. Bulgur, couscous, quinoa and brown rice are the ideal ingredients for making a host of winter-season salads.
And there’s one whole grain I love more than any other: wheat berries.
It’s possible I have a sentimental attachment since my husband grew up on the wheat farm. But I love the chew, the texture and the heartiness of this whole grain–especially in a salad.
One particular type of wheat berry is farro. It’s considered an heirloom grain produced in Italy since Roman times. I use the boiling water method to cook these whole grains like pasta. That way I can judge when they’re tender to the bite without having to measure the water.
Farro offers wonderful flavors and substance for this holiday whole-grain salad with roasted beets and arugula tossed with a apple cider vinaigrette and garnished with crumbled feta and toasted pumpkin seeds.
I scored a beautiful batch of colorful beets, including golden, chioggia and white beets. Diced and roasted, they look like jewels in this salad. They also lend their earthy sweetness accentuated by the apple cider vinaigrette.
You can mix in or substitute–for those who just can’t embrace beets–other root vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips or squash. Likewise, baby spinach or kale are shoe-ins for the arugula I’ve used for it’s wonderful peppery taste.
A salad doesn’t get much more festive than that! A celebration in a bowl that I want to eat as much as anything else on the table. And the leftovers are an instant grain bowl.
The bonus is that with a whole-grain salad like this you can prepare the main components in advance. Then, it’s a quick toss from bowl to platter and table.
It’s time to eat!
What are your favorite fall and winter salads? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook
Farro Roasted Beet Salad with Feta & Apple Cider Vinaigrette
This is a fall and winter main dish or side dish salad that's ideal for the holidays or any celebration. It features boiled whole grains, greens with roasted vegetables tossed in apple cider vinaigrette and garnished with feta and toasted pumpkin seeds. In this recipe, I use farro and arugula, but you can easily substitute other cooked whole grains, including wheat berries, barley or long-grain brown rice. For the greens, baby spinach or kale are great, too.
- 4 cups tender beets, peeled and diced 1/2 inch
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup farro, rinsed wheat berries or barley
- 6 cups lightly packed arugula
- 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) crumbled feta
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds see note
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Toss the beets with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper and roast in a single layer on a sheet pan at 400 degrees F until fork tender, turning once, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cover the farro with water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook until tender to the bite, about 20 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool.
While the beets and farro cook, make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper to create a thick vinaigrette.
While the beets and farro are still warm, toss them in a mixing bowl with 3/4 of the dressing. Toss well and taste for seasoning. You can prepare the salad up to 1 day in advance up to this point.
When ready to serve, toss the farro mixture with the arugula and the feta. Taste for seasoning and add additional dressing to taste. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, reserving some for the top.
Transfer the salad to a serving platter or shallow bowl and top with the reserved pumpkin seeds.
To save cooking time, you can soak the farro overnight in the refrigerator and then drain.
To toast the pumpkin seeds, bake in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes.