During a recent trip to Sacramento I was searching the menu for a salad that would be both interesting and healthy. Oh joy! I discovered one made with farro! It is the Italian name for emmer wheat, an ancient strain of hard wheat that formed the first known cereal in history. Supposedly it was grown in Babylonia. Cultivated across the Mediterranean region, it has high vitamin, mineral, and fiber content—and a much lower gluten content than many other types of wheat.

Farro forms the basis for a great cold salad. Not only that, you can substitute it for half the amount of rice in any number of dishes. I prefer the semi-pearl variety but any type can work. Think ahead because both farro and quinoa are reportedly much easier to digest when soaked overnight and soaking can shorten the cooking time, as well.


  • ½ cup farro, soaked overnight in water
  • 3 cups water or more, as needed
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup quinoa, any type, soaked overnight in water
  • ½ cup jicama cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • ½ cup mandarin oranges, cut into small pieces
  • ¼-½ cup dried cranberries, depending on taste
  • Leaves of butter lettuce, if desired, depending on number of servings
  • ¼-½ cup light fruit vinaigrette, depending on taste
  • Squeeze of lemon and springs of fresh parsley, basil, or mint, if desired


Rinse and drain farro.

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a very fine-mesh strainer and drain.

Bring 3 cups water to boil. Add kosher salt, farro, and quinoa. Turn heat down, cover pan, and cook until fluffy and done to desired consistency. Some like it chewier than others. Stir frequently and add more water if needed, but the goal is to have all the liquid absorbed. Set aside to cool.

While farro and quinoa are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Place in a bowl and mix.

Add the cooled farro and quinoa and mix gently. You can refrigerate in a covered bowl until ready to serve.


Add fruit vinaigrette to bowl of ingredients and mix gently.

Place pieces of butter lettuce on each salad plate and put ½ cup of the ingredients on each. Serve with a spring of fresh parsley, basil, or mint as garnish, if desired.

NOTE: You can forgo the lettuce and just serve the cold salad as a side dish, if you wish. It can be refrigerated for a couple of days successfully.