Going back and forth between the mountains and the Bay Area this time of year gives me food cravings whiplash. In the Bay Area, we’re well into spring with heaps of fresh asparagus, fava beans, strawberries, and spring onions at every farmer’s market. The days are warm and sunny, putting me in the mood for salads and grilled veggies. A quick three-hour drive puts us in the mountains, and we emerge from a warm car to step into a blustery day, spitting snow showers. Suddenly I’m craving something warm and hearty at the table. I find that this dish is a great way to straddle the seasons with the heavy fullness of the farro with the lightness of spring vegetables, all brought together with a little goat cheese and fresh thyme.
Warm Farro Salad with Spring Vegetables
- 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 1/2 cups white wine, divided (I recommend Savignon Blanc)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 20 pods of fava beans
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 spring onion
- 1 1/2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Bring 5 cups of water, 1 cup of white wine, garlic cloves and salt to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the asparagus spears. Simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the water and set aside to cool. Keep the water!
While the asparagus is simmering, shell the fava beans. Once the asparagus is removed from the water, put the favas in, bring back to a simmer, and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove, again keeping the water. Place the favas in a bowl with some cold water to help them cool quickly.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the water used for the asparagus and fava beans and set aside. Pour out the rest of the water, and pour back in the reserved 1 1/2 cups.
Bring to a light simmer and add the farro. Simmer until the farro is al dente, about 20 minutes.
While the farro is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and toss in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast for 15 minutes. Set aside.
While the tomatoes are roasting, shell the fava beans again. The best way to do that is to pinch one end to remove the piece of the outer skin, and squeeze the fava bean inside the skin through the opening. Set aside.
Slice the asparagus on the diagonal into 1″ slices. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and spring onions. When softened and very fragrant, add the asparagus, fava beans, tomatoes and cooked farro. Toss together and cook for 2 minutes to combine the flavors.
Add the goat cheese and heavy cream, and cook until the goat cheese melts through the farro. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle thyme and mint and toss.
Finish the dish with a the sherry and lemon juice
Season to taste.