We all know we should eat more whole grains, but sometimes they don’t complement the rest of a meal. They work best when you don’t try to use them as a substitute for refined starches. Whole grains tend to have a nuttier, heartier and chewier aspect than their white counterparts. If you take that character into account when pairing them with other ingredients, they can be stars on their own, not apologetic replacements when on a health kick.
This salad of farro (an ancient grain, closely related to wheat), chanterelles and shaved apples, fennel, and parmesan is a good example: It would be unappealing with, say, white rice instead of the farro. The salad could either lead off a dinner, or just as easily be a light lunch by itself. The apples and honey make it perfect for Rosh Hashanah.
Farro salad with chanterelles, fennel and apples
1 cup farro (whole or semi-pearled)
2-1/2 cups water
1 tsp. kosher salt
5 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 generous handfuls chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and quartered if large
Juice of 1 lemon
1 apple (Kings are nice), peeled and shaved on mandoline or sliced as thinly as possible, tossed immediately with the lemon juice to prevent browning
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and shaved on mandoline or sliced as thinly as possible (round bulbs are tastier than flat ones)
16 thinly shaved slices of parmesan cheese or kosher substitute
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. honey
Fresh parsley leaves
Rinse and boil the farro according to package directions. If no directions, bring to a simmer in a covered pot with the water and kosher salt, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes until tender. If the farro is semi-pearled, it may cook a lot faster than that. Don’t let it get mushy, we want a bit of a bite left. Cool to room temperature.
Heat a skillet on medium-high flame. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms, turning occasionally until nicely browned and tender. Season with sea salt and remove from the pan.
Whisk together the apple cider vinegar and honey, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, whisking continuously to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings.
To serve, mound 1/2 cup of farro on each plate. Top with a handful of the sliced apples and fennel. Drizzle on some of the dressing. Top with 4 slices of parmesan, 1/4 of the chanterelles, and some parsley. Drizzle remaining dressing around the plate, and hit with a few grains of a finishing salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Vegetarian; vegan if you omit the parmesan and honey; not gluten-free; serves 4.