Spring is in the air and the weather outside is just starting to turn for the better. Winter’s here in Chicago are long and cold so it’s no wonder the city starts to erupt in March with more and more folks chomping at the bit to get outside at any sign of 40°+ weather. For me it’s not only the opportunity to spend some more time outdoors, but it’s also turning the page in the produce department. March brings about things like fresh peas, asparagus, avocados and arugula. Sure, those things are available all year round but if you know me then you know I prefer to eat in season so now that all of these things are available, a spring salad recipe is definitely on my menu.
In addition to all of the spring produce that is available, I knew I wanted to have a delicious grain to act as the backbone in this recipe. I’ve been saying it for years so clearly I’m still a ways away, but I’m trying to incorporate more plants into my diet so leaving the animal protein out of this spring salad recipe was a must. Whether it’s grains, legumes or flours, Bob’s Red Mill is always our go to. Bob’s products are superior in every facet and we trust them with their growing, harvesting, storing and packaging process, so we also trust them with our bodies and what we put in them. Bob’s is transparent and they tell you about the entire process, and we love that! I used Bob’s Red Mill Farro as the grain in this salad recipe and whoa was it delish! If you’ve never had farro before I like to tell folks that it is a cross between brown rice and barley. It’s got a wonderful chewy texture and subtle earthy-nutty flavors. Farro is also really easy to cook as it’s done in under 35 minutes!
While the farro is cooking, this is great time to prepare everything else. I’m loadin up this spring salad recipe with green beans, asparagus, peas, candied pecans, a few other veggies and an insanely delicious lemon thyme vinaigrette. For the veggies it is essential that you blanch them in hot water and then immediately cool them. I put the green beans and the asparagus into the hot water first because they take a bit longer to cook. After about a minute or two I then add in the peas and cook for another minute or so. I’m cooking these guys pretty quick because I want to ensure they still have some crunch to them. There is nothing sadder than an over cooked vegetable so be sure to cook these veggies quick!
Next, I made my vinaigrette by simply adding all of the ingredients into a bowl and then slowly whisking in the oil. Vinaigrettes are so easy to make and once you start making them yourselves for a few times you will never again buy them from the store, there’s no point. A homemade vinaigrette is so delicious plus you can swap out and add ingredients to them to make them just how you want them. I wanted a sweet vinaigrette with some hints of lemon and thyme because I figured those great flavors would be wonderful with the greens and farro. A standard vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but because I love vinegar so much I like to do 2-to-1 oil to vinegar so that I can get more of the flavor into it.
Making homemade vinaigrette is easy and so is homemade candied pecans. When I started to make stuff like this at home on a frequent basis, the less time I spend looking for someone else who makes it. You see, my whole goal is to inspire and teach people how to cook at home as it is one of my greatest fear that home cooking is on the way out the door and is being replaced with ready to eat meals. There is nothing more satisfying than making, serving and eating homemade meals, nor will there be a better time to connect with your family on a daily basis then over delicious food.
The last thing is to simply assemble the salad. I’ve got quite a few things on this salad but I want you to know that you can garnish yours with whatever you’d like. If you start with the farro, veggies, vinaigrette and candied pecans then you are on your way to having a fantastic salad, the rest is up to you for accessorizing! I hope you enjoy this recipe, and enjoy the time making, serving and eating it with your family. Take some time to breathe and just enjoy it!
- 4 cups of cooked Bob's Red Mill Farro
- 1 cup of trimmed green beans
- ½ bunch of asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup of spring peas
- Whisk together juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon each chopped chives and thyme and 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 12 ounces of spring mix lettuce
- 6 hard boiled eggs, shelled and cut in half
- 1 bunch of cherry tomatoes
- 2 thinly sliced radishes
- 2 peeled, seeded and sliced avocados
- micro greens for garnish
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Par boil the green beans, asparagus and peas in a large pot of boiling salted water. First add in the beans and asparagus for 90 seconds and then add in the peas and cook for a further 90 seconds. Rinse and chill immediately.
- Next, season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a large pan over medium heat add in the brown sugar, butter and water and cook until it is boiling and becomes very thick, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the pecans and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the caramel sauce completely coats the pecans.
- Spread the pecans out on a sheet tray lined with a rubber mat or parchment paper and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
- To Plate: Place the greens in a large bowl and accessorize with the cooked farro, par-boiled green beans, asparagus and peas, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, radishes, candied pecans, avocados and micro green and serve alongside the vinaigrette.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bob’s Red Mill. The opinions and text are all mine.