The first time I visited Charlie Bird and had their delicious farro salad, I was blown away. The second time I had it, I was able to pin point the touches that made this dish so great- the balance of toasted pistachios, the mint-laced perfectly cooked grains gently tossed with grassy olive oil, and the salty flecks of parmesan cheese. All of these components truly brought this delicious dish together. By the third time, I was kicking myself for not attempting to recreate this grain dish at home. Although I have a feeling that Charlie Bird likely uses a tad more cheese and oil than I did, this dish is a stand out side or main to make at home.
The shining star of this grain salad is the toasted pistachio. It lends itself perfectly to the salty ricotta salata and adds the right amount of crunch to the tender grain. Aside from color and crunch factor, pistachios offer a myriad of nutritional benefits that add a virtuous boost to this grain salad goodness.
The Power Of the Nut:
Pistachios contain the highest amount of potassium of any nut, important for muscle recovery, nerve function, and the regulation of blood pressure. Pistachios are the least caloric nut, containing 100 calories in 30 kernels. They are also a wonderful source of vegetarian protein as well as dietary fiber. These green-hued nuts have shown promising evidence for aiding blood sugar control and weight maintenance. The fat content in the nuts allows for longer periods of satiation, which keeps you feeling full longer. Pistachios are also rich in lutein, anthocyanin, and carotenoids to promote eye health.
Radish Rec: Keep in mind; despite all the benefits of nuts, portion control is essential since they are calorically dense and a source of dietary fat. Always opt for salt-free to avoid uncontrolled amounts of sodium in your diet. One ounce of raw shelled pistachios provides about 150 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat.
Pistachio and Mint Farro Salad
- 1 cup farro
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Meyer lemon or lemon- 2 tsps of zest and juice
- ½ cup raw shelled pistachios
- 3 oz ricotta salata-crumbled
- 5 radishes- thinly sliced and halved into half moon slivers
- ¼ cup mint leaves, thinly sliced or torn
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, cover farro with water and let soak for 25 minutes. While farro soaks, toast pistachio kernels in a pan, shaking continually until lightly toasted, set aside. Drain farro and place in a pot with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.
While farro cooks, whisk together red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp of olive oil, lemon zest, and ½ of the lemon juice. Once cooked, drain the farro and while warm, toss with vinaigrette. Mix in most of the pistachios, mint, cheese, and radish, reserving a handful for garnish. Finish with a grinding of black pepper, a swirl of olive oil, and the remaining lemon juice and garnishes.