This strawberry, spinach, and farro salad is perfect for showcasing those late spring and early summer strawberries. Salads like this are also a great way to use farro, an ancient whole grain wheat that is packed with fiber and protein.
I’m back home after being away for 4 days for a nutrition conference in New Orleans. Leave it to me to spend way more time geeking out in seminars than on the streets of New Orleans (need to go back!), but not to worry, I did get my share of tasty Southern food while down there–from crawfish to catfish to beignets!
But after eating out for several days, my body is seriously craving fruits, veggies, and fiber! Perhaps that’s why I’m extra excited to share this Strawberry, Spinach, and Farro Salad with you today. It’s the perfect spring and summer side dish, whether for weeknight dinners, weekend cookouts, and leftover lunches.
Spotlight on Ancient Grains
This salad features farro, which is an ancient whole grain wheat that has a slightly nutty taste. While there’s still a lot of focus on quinoa–which I love–I’m glad that more grains are getting attention. There is such an array of grains and seeds out there–from farro to quinoa to sorghum to millet, all with slightly different nutrient compositions, but also with one thing in common: they are much healthier than the refined grains we typically fill our plates with!
So if you haven’t yet, give farro a try. Farro can vary in cooking time depending on its form, so your best bet is to follow the package instructions. But another method is to just treat it as pasta and cook until tender. Just know that it could take as long as 50 minutes to be ready depending on the type you have.
A Nutrient-Packed Salad
This salad offers a fun and healthy way to incorporate farro into your diet. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of this salad:
- Farro – contains more fiber and protein than more common whole grains such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice. One serving of Bobs Red Mill farro (1/4 cup uncooked) contains 7 grams fiber and 7 grams protein. It’s also a good source of magnesium, calcium, and iron.
- Strawberries – packed with antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamin C.
- Spinach – an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
Make it a Meal
This dish is more of a side dish, but you can easily make it a meal by adding a few additional veggies and protein. Here are some ideas:
- Grilled zucchini or summer squash (chopped)
- Cooked peas or snap peas
- Avocado (can you ever go wrong by adding avocado?)
- Cannellini or garbanzo beans
- Grilled chicken breast or rotisserie chicken (chopped)
If your kids are like mine, they would probably rather have a bowl of plain strawberries, with perhaps a little spinach or farro on the side. So how do you get your kids excited about this delicious salad? There are several strategies:
- Get your kids involved with the preparation. Maybe they help slice strawberries, wash the spinach (my kids love to use the salad spinner!), or shake up the dressing. Kids are more likely to try foods that they helped prepare. They may also be more likely to taste a new food during the food prep process than at the dinner table (less pressure).
- Let them eat the salad deconstructed if that’s what they prefer. Serve the assembled salad but put out a few bowls of the separate ingredients as well. This gives them the option of creating their own version of the salad or eating all the foods separately without touching.
- One of the most important thing with any food you serve your kids is to let them decide whether or not to try it and how much to eat. Serving meals family style, without any pressure, lets your child have control and makes them more likely to try a new food.
- 1 cup farro (sub sorghum or quinoa if gluten-free)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced or quartered
- 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- ¼ cup crumbled feta (optional)
- Cook farro according to package instructions or use these general instructions: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add farro, reduce heat and simmer for 30-50 minutes, until tender. Drain excess water and let cool. (This step can be done ahead of time).
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add slivered almonds and cook for a few minutes, tossing or stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden. Turn off heat and let cool.
- In a small bowl or jar with a lid, combine oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt. Whisk or shake until well combined.
- To a large mixing bowl, add cooled farro, spinach, strawberries, green onions, and almonds. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Add cheese to the top (or leave on the side).
Note: Nutrient analysis, as always, is an estimate.