Grilled Vegetable Salad with Farro
Since becoming a “grown-up” New Yorker, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with summer.
(I know it’s not quite summer yet, but Memorial Day is almost upon us, and it’s supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow, so I feel like it’s acceptable to start discussing my former favorite season. Go with it.)
The hate part can largely be chalked up to the fact that NYC in the summer is the absolute pits. It’s steamy, and dirty, and smelly, and not to be superficial, but the physical effects are quite alarming. Between my humidity ‘fro, general sweatiness, and permanently blackened feet (if you’ve ever wandered the city in sandals, you know what I’m talking about), I can honestly say it’s my worst season. Sad, but true.
Adding insult to injury, my relationship also takes a hit during the summer months due to my roommate’s severe overheating issues…
I’ve mentioned before that Logan gets tense and cranky at temperatures above 75 degrees, and he’s put a strict moratorium on physical contact outside of highly air-conditioned spaces from June through August. I learned this the hard way many years ago, when I accidentally caused a meltdown by trying to hold his hand on the way to dinner. (“Are you insane?!! No touching!!! TOO HOT.”) I have to cut the dude some slack given his very manly body hair situation, but still. It’s tough.
With all of that said, I’ll always have a deep appreciation for summertime. Life slows down, and there are lots of weddings to celebrate, weekends at the beach, and the occasional trip to Maine to look forward to. Plus, I very much enjoy crop tops, summer produce, and some old-fashioned QT with my grill pan.
If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you probably already know that I’m mildly obsessed with my trusty grill pan. (I’m obviously into real grills too, but after being reminded that it’s illegal to use a Weber on NYC fire escapes, I don’t think I’ll be playing with one anytime soon.) So, in honor of the rising temps, I broke that bad boy out of storage yesterday to make this glorious Grilled Vegetable Salad with Farro.
A mix of five different grilled vegetables, baby lettuces, farro, and toasted pepitas tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette, this summery salad is literally bursting at the seams with fresh flavor and texture. It’s light, yet satisfying, and in addition to its sexy appearance, it also boasts some pretty serious nutritional benefits. Thanks to the fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C it’s packing, you can look forward to improved digestion, decreased cancer risk, and an increase in your skin’s general glow. Exciting!
In short, this multi-colored miracle completely banished my Debbie Downer-esque summer dread and left me feeling pumped about all the grilling and rosé in my not-so-distant future. I’m really hoping it has the same magical effect on all of you.
Oh, and I’d quickly like to point out that Grilled Vegetable Salad with Farro is wonderfully versatile, so feel free to get creative with it. While I dig it as an easy vegan meal, it makes an equally awesome appetizer or side dish for warm weather soirées. Try it topped with a poached egg (brunch!), or bulk things up for dinner with some grilled shrimp, chicken or steak. You can even grill the veggies in advance, and then quickly assemble the salad come party time. Needless to say, rosé is strongly encouraged in all scenarios.
Happy almost summer, friends! May it be as sweet as it is sweaty.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Farro: (Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer/side)
¼ cup semi-pearled farro
¼ cup raw pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)
½ red onion, sliced crosswise into ¼-inch rounds
1 large Portobello mushroom cap, stem and dark gills removed (Just use a spoon to scrape out the gills.)
1 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch planks
1 yellow squash, sliced into ¼-inch planks
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into 4 planks
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
5 ounces baby lettuces, chopped
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon honey (or agave)
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
Preparing your Grilled Vegetable Salad with Farro:
-Cook the farro according to the package directions, strain, and set aside to cool.
-Meanwhile, toast your pepitas. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the pepitas and cook for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until the seeds are toasted and lightly browned. Set aside until ready to use.
-Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush the vegetables with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and season all over with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on the grill and cook until tender (but not mushy!) and sexy grill marks appear. The vegetables have slightly different cooking times, peeps, so pay attention: The onions will take about 7 minutes. The Portobello, zucchini, and yellow squash need 7-8 minutes, and the bell peppers will take 10 minutes. Turn the vegetables half way through the cooking time. (Obviously, if you’re using a grill pan, you’ll need to cook the vegetables in batches.)
-Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.-Cut all the vegetables into a small dice.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the balsamic vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped baby lettuce, diced vegetables, farro and pepitas. Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat.
-Divide salad among plates, top with extra fresh ground pepper and serve immediately.
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