Prep Time: 5 mintues | Cook Time: 35 minutes
Grain bowls are a thing, that’s for sure. Francis Lam wrote in the New York Times recently that they can save a new parent’s life; Bon Appetit has been touting them for years; even Tuesday Recipe has taken a stab at them in the past (although I didn’t know the term “grain bowl” until I ate one at Squrl in LA).
They’re popular because they are a brilliant way to eat: veggie, starch, and protein all tied together with dressing to amplify each flavor. The problem is following a recipe. A grain bowl is more a matter of inspiration than planning, and winging it is the best way to build one (they are a great way to use up leftovers). I like to serve mine on platters instead of bowls and call them salads because they are easier to share that way. And really, these are just composed salads with a cool new name.
So here’s how to build a grain salad (or bowl) in general: cooked grain + vegetable (I like mine roasted) + greens + protein (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, egg, tofu) + something salty and crunchy (nuts, croutons, crumbled chips!) + dressing
And here’s how to make one specifically. Feel free not to follow the recipe and use whatever you have on hand. If you cook the grain mixture ahead of time (or have leftover farro, rice, quinoa, whatever), you can assemble the salad in 5 minutes flat.
1 cup pearled or semi-pearled farro
extra-virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup total)
1 bunch thin aspargus spears
2 green onions, sliced thinly
4 cups arugula
2 cups shredded or torn Treviso or radicchio (or use mixed salad greens)
1/2 cup salted almonds, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 burrata ball
To make the grain mixture, cook the farro like pasta (so it is less starchy): bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add farro and reduce heat to medium so that you have a steady but not overflowing boil. Cook, partially covered with lid, for about 35 minutes or until farro is tender. Drain and rinse under cool water; shake off excess liquid and put cooked farro in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil to keep grains from getting sticky.
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt to taste and spread on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until asparagus is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Add roasted asparagus to bowl with farro then stir in the sliced green onions. At this point you can set grain mixture aside at room temperature to cool or you can refrigerate for up to 2 days and assemble the salad at the last minute.
To assemble the salad, place the arugula, Treviso or radicchio, and almonds in a large bowl. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar and mustard with a fork. Whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Pour over greens, toss well, then add the farro mixture and toss again. Season to taste with salt. Spread salad on a serving platter, tear the burrata ball in pieces and scatter over the top. Serve.