Author Notes: This is an extremely versatile dish, and I encourage you to change the ingredients to suit your tastes. For me, the confit onions, almonds, and cheese remain a constant presence in this dish, but the arugula and persimmon can easily change to asparagus and hard-boiled eggs in the spring or zucchini, corn, and basil in the summer. Let your imagination run wild.
There are tons of farro salad recipes in this world, but what makes this particular recipe stand out is the presence of the onion confit oil, which adds an umami-rich sweetness to the nutty farro. —Josh Cohen
cup olive oil
large onions, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
cups dried farro (approximately 1/2 pound)
fuyu persimmons, skin removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
cup chopped toasted almonds
cup diced goat Gouda, approximately 6 ounces (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, like Pecorino or Manchego)
cup red wine vinegar
- Add the olive oil to a dutch oven or large high-walled sauté pan and set the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir regularly until the onions soften and turn translucent. Adjust the heat so that the onions are gently simmering in the oil, and continue to stir occasionally to prevent the onions from burning. (You may need to lower the heat slightly.) After approximately 45 minutes, the onions should be soft, sweet, and caramelized. At this point, remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water so that it tastes like the ocean, and add the farro. Cook the farro, stirring occasionally, until it is tender. The cooking time on farro can vary, so start tasting your farro after approximately 25 minutes of cooking. When it tastes soft but still chewy, it is ready. (If you want, you can taste the farro after 15 minutes of cooking, so that you understand what undercooked farro tastes like and have a point of reference.) When the farro is cooked, drain it and spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
- Transfer the farro to a large mixing bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium sized mixing bowl and pour the onion mixture into the strainer, separating the oil from the onions. Add the onions to the farro, along with ⅓ cup of the onion confit oil. Mix to combine. Reserve any remaining onion confit oil. If the farro salad seems dry, you can add the remaining oil. Or, store it in your refrigerator and use it on another day to fry an egg or make a salad dressing.
- Add the persimmon, almonds, cheese, and red wine vinegar to the farro. Stir to combine. Taste the farro salad, and adjust the seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, and stir to combine. I like to wait 10 to 15 minutes before serving to allow the arugula to wilt slightly. This dish can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Just remember to remove the farro salad from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving, so that it has a chance to come to room temperature.
Photo by Bobbi Lin