Salad season is in full swing in my house as the days get longer and hotter. I love salads of all kinds, but my go-to salad over the summer months is my seriously delicious Chicken and Farro Salad, a power-packed farro bowl, loaded up with goodness (did I mention it tastes ah-maaazing?)
What is Chicken and Farro Salad?
Let me tell you, once you try it, you are going to be making this lean and green chicken salad all summer long.
It’s made from a combination of grains, juicy poached chicken, summer vegetables and fresh herbs. Topped with a tangy vinaigrette and creamy feta cheese, this recipe is ideal for parties, barbecues, picnics and meal prep.
Trust me, this simple recipe is going to become one of your favourite summer salads. It is super tasty fresh and even better the next day.
What grains are in this salad?
I use a mixture of farro, barley and wild rice. This combination gives this fresh and flavourful chicken salad a beautiful nutty flavour and a delicious chew.
What is farro?
If you haven’t tried farro before, stop what you are doing and go get some! These nutritious ancient grains are packed with goodness.
Farro is one of the world’s oldest cultivated grains (as in, the ancient Egyptians knew all about this good stuff at least 10,000 years ago). It came originally from the Near East and Mediterranean regions and was incredibly popular in the Roman Empire.
Farro actually refers to three different grains, farro grande (spelt), farro medio (emmer) and farro piccolo (einkorn). Don’t worry though, the most common variety sold outside of Italy and in the U.S is farro medio, so it’s not as confusing as it sounds!
How do you cook farro?
Farro cooks quickly and easily, especially if you know what you are looking for. I use pearled farro which is quick cooking and doesn’t require soaking. You simply need to simmer the farro in water or stock for 20-25 minutes until tender.
Be sure to buy pearled farro (check the cooking times on the package directions if it isn’t on the label). Whole-grain farro needs an overnight soak and a longer cooking time.
Why is farro salad so good for you?
Farro is a nutrition powerhouse, packed with iron, fibre, protein and magnesium. It is high in B vitamins and zinc and is believed to be extremely good for heart and digestive health.
A Mediterranean Farro Salad is a popular part of the healthy Italian Mediterranean diet. Paired with fresh vegetables and extra-virgin olive oil, grain salads are a real superfood. As a bonus, it’s delicious!
How do you make Chicken and Farro Salad?
It is so easy! There are four main steps:
- Poach your chicken breasts
- Cook the grains
- Cut the vegetables and make the dressing
It’s as simple as that! There is very little prep time, and you can get everything you need done while the grains are cooking.
Farro and chicken salad will feed a crowd
One of the best things about healthy grains is that they are brilliant for feeding a crowd (especially on a budget). One and a half cups of grain will make a huge, hearty salad, perfect for a party or entertaining, or for having in the fridge to eat all week long.
What to serve with Chicken and Farro salad?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Chicken and Farro salad with other grains?
This salad is delicious made with just barley and would work well with rice as well. I’m going to try it next with some other ancient grains like freekeh. It’s a flexible recipe, just keep an eye on the cooking times, you want the grains to have a nice chew, but to be cooked through.
Can I double this recipe?
Absolutely! It makes a fairly generous portion anyway, but if you have lots of hungry mouths to feed, this salad is wonderfully economical so go ahead and double up.
Can I freeze farro salad?
No, the vegetables won’t tolerate being frozen. This salad will last several days in the fridge, however, so perfect for batching and meal prepping if you want an easy lunch to take to work. Just make extra dressing or refresh with a little lemon juice and oil before eating.
Can I make farro and chicken salad vegetarian or vegan?
Of course! Leave out the meat and cheese (you can replace it with tofu or meat replacements if you like). Add extra veggies or salad leaves to bulk it up. Baby spinach leaves are really tasty in this salad. The nutty flavour of the farro is a great base for all sorts of other vegetables.
How long does Chicken and Farro salad keep in the fridge?
Easily 4-5 days as long as your fridge is cold.
Do I have to poach the chicken for this recipe?
Not at all, though my poached chicken recipe is quick and easy. This recipe is a great way to use up leftover chicken, or can also be made with a rotisserie chicken. You can also use chicken thighs if you like.
Is farro gluten-free?
Farro isn’t gluten-free, but it is low in gluten, so if you are looking to reduce your gluten intake it is a suitable choice, though not for people who are gluten intolerant.
With sweet, summery cherry tomatoes, fresh crispy vegetables and lots of fresh parsley, this salad is packed with goodness.
I always make a double batch of the dressing, to that everybody can add as much as they like at the table.
Chicken and Farro Salad Recipe
- 400g (1lb) chicken breasts (2 medium)
- 150g (1 ½ cups) whole grain (pearled farro, pearled barley and wild rice, see notes)
- 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock powder
- 75g (½ cup) raisins
- 200g (1 ¼ cup) cherry tomatoes
- ½ a long cucumber
- ½ a red bell pepper
- a small bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
- 125g (4.5 oz.) Feta or goat cheese
- 3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
- sea salt and black pepper
for the salad dressing:
- 100ml (7 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
- 60 ml (4 Tbsp) red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ - 2 tsp brown sugar or honey
- juice of half a lemon
- POACH THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a small saucepan. Cover with water (don’t fill the pot, just enough water so the chicken is well covered) and grind a little salt in. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Set aside, covered.
- COOK THE GRAINS: Pour the grains into a large saucepan. Add 1 ¼ litre (1.25 qt.) cold water and the stock powder and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes until the grains are cooked and have a nice chew. Add the raisins in the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Tip the cooked grains into a sieve and rinse under cold water.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: Combine all dressing ingredients with a pinch of salt in a glass jar and shake well.
- CUT VEGETABLES & SHRED CHICKEN: Roughly dice the tomatoes, cucumber and peppers and chop the parsley. Remove the chicken from the poaching water, allow it to cool for a minute or two, and then use your hands to shred it into bite-sized chunks.
- ASSEMBLE: Combine the cooled farro and grains, vegetables, parsley and chicken in a large bowl. Crumble over the feta cheese and pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and season with a pinch of salt and pepper, adding vinegar and oil to taste.
- SERVE: Transfer the salad to a serving platter, scatter over the pumpkin seeds and serve.
If I am not serving the salad immediately I like to make a double batch of the dressing. The grains will soak up a lot of the dressing, so if you have extra in hand you can tip it up to taste.
Grains: I have used a mixture of nutty farro, barley and wild rice which all cook at a similar speed. You could use all farro or barley if you like. I have used wild rice rather than brown rice, though I believe it would work the same way.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1974Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 315mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 2gSugar: 17gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.