An Authentic Italian Picnic, Part 4 of 5: Spring Farro & Legume Italian Salad

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Italians look forward to eating fresh dishes that can be served cold, and come May, they're eating one such dish—faro salad. A common addition to brunches, aperitivos, and picnic baskets, farro salad is a heartier, more nutritious alternative to a basic pasta or rice salad. This whole grain is known for its nutty, earthy flavor and tastes somewhat like a lighter brown rice. Its full of fiber as well as vitamins A, B, C, and E. It's also lower in gluten, making it a great option for the gluten-intolerant.

This recipe packs a protein punch thanks to the combination of legumes, whole grains, and nuts, which also means it is a perfect vegan dish. If you want to kick it up a notch, add some bocconcini or parmigiano shavings. For a summery version, replace the asparagus with arugula.

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Spring Farro & Legume Italian Salad

Serves 8

Ingredients

½ cup farro

½ cup split peas

½ cup lentils, green or brown

½ cup fresh peas

1 big bunch of asparagus

4-5 medium tomatoes

6-7 dried tomatoes in olive oil

1 cup almonds

A handful of basil leaves

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

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DIRECTIONS

01. Soak the farro and split peas overnight before cooking.

02. Add the farro and lentils (which do not require prior soaking) to a pot filled with 2 cups of water, and bring to a simmer. Cook half-covered for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Add a good pinch of salt at the end, mix, drain, and let cool.

03. Cook the split peas in the same way. They will take 40 to 50 minutes to get tender. Mix everything in a bowl.

04. In the meantime, steam the asparagus until tender, then roughly chop. Chop the fresh tomatoes, and add to the bowl with the farro and legumes.

05. Prepare a chopped pesto with the dried tomatoes, almonds, and basil by chopping everything finely on a chopping board, then add to the bowl.

06. Season well with salt and some pepper, and finish off with some good extra-virgin olive oil to taste.