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 with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino
- 1 cup pearled farro
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 10 asparagus stalks , trimmed
- 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas (or frozen and defrosted peas)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- Combine the farro with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until just tender.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus stalks into thin ribbons. (I found this is easiest if you lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board.)
- When the farro is cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the peas, asparagus and mint, and toss to combine. Let the salad cool completely, then add the Pecorino and pistachios, and mix well.
- Serve at room temperature.