I don’t know how long I’ve been reading Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks, but I know that it’s been more than a decade. She strikes me as a complex person: confident without being aloof, endlessly creative with the simplest ingredients, sophisticated but never fussy. And her sense of style is impeccable, both in her photography and the treasures she curates in her culinary boutique, Quitokeeto – the kind of shop where you want to buy everything.
I’ve enjoyed all of her cookbooks, but am particularly fond of her latest, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel. In it she highlights one of my favorite parts about travel, the taste expansion and inspiration that I invariably return home with. Making a dish that I’ve learned in some far away place can transport me back there like nothing else. But I also love her nod to ‘near,’ because I find ample ways to be expanded and inspired in my daily life, by familiar people and places.
I’ve made several recipes out of her new book, and this is one of my favorites (not just because it’s from Italy, which as you know, is near and dear to my heart.) Like many of Heidi’s recipes, the ingredients in this farro salad caught me by surprise in that how-have-I-never-thought-of-this-before kind of way. Really, why not combine buttery green olives with crunchy nuts and sweet, chewy raisins? This salad is a savory, salty, sweet, tangy combination that will have you nodding your head in satisfaction with every bite .
I’ve tweaked the recipe just a bit, using hazelnuts instead of walnuts, fewer onions, more Pecorino and a scatter of Italian parsley.
Farro Salad with Green Olives, Hazelnuts and Raisins
- 1 1/4 cups whole farro
- 3 cups water
- large pinch fine-grain sea salt
- juice of 1/2 a Meyer Lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Castelvetrano or other buttery green olive coarsely chopped
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped
- 3 green onions roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup golden raisins look for golden Himalayan raisins - they're delicious and usually unsulphered
- large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 ounce shaved pecorino plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsely
Combine farro, water, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Gently simmer 30 minutes, until farro is tender but not mushy. Drain excess water. Set aside to cool.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Stir in olives, hazelnuts, green onions, raisins, crushed red pepper and 1 ounce of pecorino. Add farro and toss to thoroughly combine.
Top with parsley and several pecorino shavings; serve.