Restoration Salad with Farro, Orange, and Blue Cheese
After all of the hearty, rich food of winter, I will find myself craving a meal on the other end of the spectrum—something light, fresh, and healthy, with a restorative effect. But it still has to be hefty and substantial enough to work for cold-weather cravings. Because no matter how good it might be in warmer weather, a leafy lettuce bowl just won’t do for a meal. Enter the whole-grain salad.
Whole-grain farro gives this seasonal salad a whole lot of satisfying substance. I specify whole-grain farro here because I want to point out the difference between it and pearled farro. The latter might be quicker-cooking, but because it’s pearled, it’s not a whole grain (the bran has been removed). It’s still a tasty and convenient ingredient; it’s not a bad guy! But for more nutrition benefits and better texture, I always opt for the whole-grain option, which is much harder to overcook to that sad blow-out mushiness that you might have unfortunately experienced before.
In addition to the grains, shaved brussels sprouts, pungent blue cheese, and toasted walnuts also give the salad heartiness. But I wanted some light and refreshing notes, too, and those came in the form of juicy orange sections, orange juice–plumped golden raisins, and a white balsamic dressing that has a little bit of sweetness. In each bite, you get a little nuttiness, a lot of chewiness, some juicy bits, a pleasant amount of bitterness, and some creamy richness. (As you can see, there’s a lot to hold your interest!)
This salad works well if you’re into meal prep because the elements won’t wilt or go mushy on you, even after a few days. With one exception: the walnuts. I like to store them separately so they’ll retain as much crunch as possible. But you can go ahead and pack everything up at the beginning of the week for take-to-work lunches you’ll actually look forward to eating.
I could have easily called this dish Slow-Down Salad, too. The textures of the farro and the shaved raw brussels sprouts force me to chew and chew and chew—to decelerate my eating and enjoy every bite with more intention and appreciation. And that’s definitely a big part of its restorative effect as well.