Farro, Radicchio, and Roasted Beet Salad
Farro, an ancient variety of wheat, has a hearty texture and a nutty flavor. Here, the whole grain is tossed with bitter radicchio and earthy beets for a pretty, delicious, and healthful salad.
Farro is said to have sustained the Romans as they conquered the world 7,000 years ago. Legend had it that Julius Caesar himself brought it to Italy after invading Egypt in 30 B.C. Known as the Pharoah’s wheat because it was the only wheat cultivated in pharoanic times, this nutritious, high-energy grain was a staple in Roman society.
Also known as emmer wheat, farro (triticum dicoccon) is the Italian name for this hulled ancient mother grain that gave rise to modern wheat. Often confused with spelt they are two distinct, though closely related grains. Armed with more than twice the protein and fiber of modern wheat, each grain of farro packs a nutritious punch. Not only is it rich in magnesium, niacin, zinc and iron, it also provides a complete protein source when combined with legumes. Farro has a low gluten content with more fragile gluten molecules than those of modern wheat, making it easier to digest, and sometimes tolerable for many gluten-intolerant individuals. An excellent source of whole grains and complex carbohydrates, farro can play a significant role in maintaining healthy body weight, and reducing diabetes, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease risk, as well as helping to prevent certain forms of cancer.
Per one-half cup:
- Calories: 170
- Carbohydrate: 34 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Iron: 2 milligrams
- 8 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter beets, tops trimmed to 1 inch
- Vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro or wheat berries
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 2 cups (packed) thinly sliced quartered radicchio (from about 1 medium head) or you may use fresh escarole (less bitter)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange beets in single layer in 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cover with foil and roast until beets are tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Trim beets; peel. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
- Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and garlic into hot farro. Cool to room temperature.
- Cut each beet into 6 to 8 wedges. Add beets, radicchio, onion, and parsley to farro; toss to incorporate evenly. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
- Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl. Drizzle over salad. Add feta cheese; toss to coat.
Any type of beet (red, golden, red-and-white-striped Chioggia) would be great in this salad. To avoid stained hands, wear plastic gloves when peeling dark-colored beets.