Farro is a grain I started using a few months back. It’s basically almost identical in taste and texture to pearl barley (so use the latter if you can’t find farro) but just a little nuttier and slightly darker, so I find visually I prefer it and in photos it looks slightly more interesting. It’s a great bulky ingredient to use as a base for a salad and has super texture. You could pair it successfully with lentils or even quinoa but on this occasion I added cooked, split yellow peas. The latter are a great source of fibre and contain a decent amount of protein and zinc along with folate ~ so like mung beans, great to eat if you’re trying to get or are pregnant. Initially the dressing came about by accident, I was testing out frying the cannellini beans which ended in a total disaster (! = big face-slap!) As they just turn into a gloopy mess, so I added the whole lot to the food processor and whizzed them up with the other ingredients to form an almost runny, hummus-like dressing. The sesame is a good pairing with both the white beans and the fish, and as a garnish the black seeds too look great visually. This salad is a fantastic way of getting Brussels sprouts into your diet, as instead of the slimy connotations most people put on these mini cabbages, this method sees them sliced super finely and they retain a great crunchy texture yet blend subtly into all the other flavour-packed ingredients and the fact you eat them raw is another win-win as you retain all their minerals such magnesium and iron.
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (use a microplane for the zest)
L cup low fat, natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
For the salad:
- 2 cups farro
1 cup yellow split peas
6 large Brussels sprouts
K cup toasted flaked almonds
Handful (50g) baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
300g hot smoked salmon
To cook the farro and split yellow peas; add both into an individual, medium-sized pot and cover the 2 cups of farro with 6 cups (1.5 litres) water and the 1 cup of peas with 3 cups (750ml) water. Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer for approx. 30-35 minutes or until cooked through (yet still retaining a little bite) and most/all the water is absorbed (test around the 25 minute mark to see how they are going). Drain and rinse very well under cold water. Drain again thoroughly, then add into a large mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon EVOO and season well with a good pinch of crumbled sea salt flakes and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Whilst the farro and peas are cooking, make the mayo dressing. Add all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whizz for 6-7 minutes until really smooth and creamy.
Using a mandolin set on its finest blade setting (mine is 0.75mm), cut the Brussels sprouts. To do this hold the stem end of the sprout in your fingers and very carefully start to slice until about 1/2 way down the sprout ~ you want to avoid the ‘woodier’ end of the sprout and just slice the greener part from rounded top down. Please look out for your fingers whilst cutting and use the guard if you are not used to cutting on a mandolin without it. Accident can happen in seconds on these machines.
If you don’t have a mandolin, slice the sprouts as thinly as you can using a sharp knife.
Add the finely sliced sprouts to the farro and pea mixture, along with the juice and zest of 1 lemon (I use a microplane to zest the lemon so it’s really very fine), toasted flaked almonds, chopped spinach, sesame seeds and finally the salmon which you flake in large chunks and combine all together.
To serve, turn the mixed salad out into a serving bowl or platter and sprinkle a few extra black sesame seeds over the top followed by a few snipped chives and feathery dill leaves. Serve with the white bean dressing on the side or drizzled over.
Note ~ if you can’t get hot smoked salmon, you can substitute with flaked poached fresh salmon or leave out altogether.