There’s a limit to how many stalks of limp, soggy, brown-green asparagus I can eat before I start to feel like one myself. And there’s really no reason to overcook green spring vegetables, when they have such a great crisp crunch that lots of them can eaten raw or just barely cooked. Raw asparagus stalks might be a little too “raw” for most people, but when peeled into slivers, they are tender and absolutely delicious. The thin ribbons absorb the lemon vinaigrette beautifully in this salad, and continue to marinate as the salad sits.
Similarly, shelled English peas have a great crunch and while you could make this salad with frozen peas (I would recommend defrosting, and blanching them for 30 seconds in boiling water first) what makes it especially good is the combination of different textures and fresh, bright flavor- the chewy farro, the crunchy peas and pistachios, the lemony asparagus ribbons, and the salty flakes of Pecorino. This is a recipe to celebrate Spring’s greatest hits, and the better your veggies are, the better the salad will be.
This is a great grain-and-vegetable-in-one side dish, but having now eaten for it a week as I’ve worked on the recipe, I can say it makes a pretty good dinner on its own, with a soft boiled egg on top.
Farro Salad with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- 1½ cups pearled farro
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 pound asparagus stalks, trimmed
- ¾ cup shelled fresh peas (or defrosted frozen peas)
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- ½ cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the farro, turn the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus stalks into thin ribbons. The easiest way to do this is to lay the stalks flat on a cutting board, and working one time, hold the asparagus at the thicker end of the stalk and peel towards the tip. Repeat with all the asparagus, finely chop any leftover pieces, and set aside.
- When the farro is cooked, drain and immediately add to the bowl with the dressing. Toss well, then add the peas and asparagus and toss again. Let the salad cool completely then add the pistachios, Pecorino and mint and toss gently.
- Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with more mint and Pecorino and serve at room temperature.