Any likeness to richness stops there. The farro is delicately peppered with slivered late summer vegetables, impossibly refreshing in their raw, slender form. Sometimes I forget that an unaccustomed texture has the power to make a vegetable feel like an entirely different ingredient. Zucchini often gets tiresome past its mid-summer zenith, but barely-there ribbons feel completely new. Fennel is frequently braised in pursuit of its caramelized potential, but here, the wispy mandolined strips are a total breath of fresh air, like a more flavorful celery.
If you are unfamiliar with chives, do seek them out if you can—they are the cherry on top of a salad bellowing summer, though scallions are a perfectly acceptable alternative. You can probably tell that this recipe is included in my "big batch salad" list from a mile away; indeed, I made a double serving for the week, mixing in arugula, chickpeas, and hard-boiled egg for a hefty lunch.
Buttermilk Farro Salad (from 101 Cookbooks)
Serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped dill
½ cup chopped chives (can substitute scallions)
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin
4 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
chopped chives for garnish
Arugula, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs (optional, for serving)
1. Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.
2. In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro grains. Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives.