Farro and Chicken Salad with Dates and Cranberries
It’s official, Marin mama has been slacking on the blog. I promised this recipe to you all last week and I never posted it, so I’m sorry! I’m still trying to manage working full-time, making quality time for the kids and friends, as well as making sure I have some time to play and enjoy life in general, because at the end you have to enjoy all the fruits of your labor, right? Life is a balancing act that I’m trying to figure out. What I’ve learned lately is to let go of certain things that really don’t matter at the end of the day, and to try and not control life too much. My big lesson this spring has been to let go, go with the flow, be open to new paths and opportunities and just play more. So, I will post when I can, and there might be months where I post weekly, and months where I only post twice. I know you’re all super chill with it all, and I totally appreciate it! I’ve been meeting a bunch of you lately as I roam out and about Marin, and I have to say that I have some of the friendliest and supportive readers ever, so THANK YOU! You all keep me motivated to get back on this blog!
Ok, let’s move onto this recipe and away from my excuses for being a slacker. I’m all about making dishes lately that are hearty, healthy and full of different flavor combinations. I love anything made with farro, I must say. Farro is chewy, nutty and just plain fun to eat. Yes, to me it’s fun to eat, strange as that might sound! Farro is a bit like kale in the sense that it sits well for 3 days and makes the perfect make-ahead lunch, dinner or potluck picnic fare. I love the chewy and nutty flavor of the farro paired with the sweetness of the dried cranberries, dates and champagne vinaigrette. The Marcona almonds and Manchego cheese help balance out all that sweetness. All of the ingredients combine so well together that you might find youself going back in the container for second and third helpings, as I did a few times. I love pairing this salad alongside my lacinato kale salad. It’s the perfect spring salad, as it’s served up cold and can be made ahead of time, which is perfect for your next picnic or potluck.
Farro and chicken salad with dates and cranberries
recipe adapted from True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, PureTrue Food
- 1 cup farro, well-rinsed
- 2 bone-in skin on chicken breasts or approximately 2-3 cups leftover chicken, shredded
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup or approximately 5-6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Optional – 2 ounces Manchego Cheese, shaved and peeled with a vegetable peeler
- Your favorite greens such as; mixed greens, kale or spinach – I used mixed greens the first time and then spinach the next time.
- Marcona almonds for topping and for some added crunch
makes 1 cup
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- pinch of freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Let’s start by cooking the farro and chicken. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken breasts for 35 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. The breasts I get locally are always huge, so they usually take between 45-60 minutes. I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º. Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, shred the chicken meat, and set aside.
Meanwhile, put farro into a medium sauce pan and cover with 4 inches of water.
Bring to a boil, (uncovered) reduce the heat to low or simmer, and cook uncovered until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. I would test the farro at 15 minutes to see where it’s at. You want it to be al dente, firm, chewy and a bit tender, but not mushy.
Drain the farro. Spread the farro on baking sheet to cool. I always put the baking sheet in the fridge to cool faster.
While the farro and chicken are cooling, you can prep the other ingredients and make the champagne vinaigrette. Chop up the Marcona almonds, (if using), pit and chop up the dates, measure out 1/4 teaspoon salt and the 1/3 cup cranberries.
To make the dressing, get out a blender and add in the 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and a pinch of black pepper. Pulse to combine the ingredients. With the machine running slowly, drizzle in the olive oil. Blend the dressing until it is well emulsified, thick in texture and has a creamy yellow color. You can make this dressing ahead of time, just pour it into a container with a lid and put it in the refrigerator. Make sure to whisk or shake it well before you use it.
Now it’s time to assemble the salad. I usually just make this salad up ahead of time and store it in a container to eat for lunch and dinner the next few days. So, if you’re not serving this up right away to friends, then get out a large bowl and add in the cooled farro, shredded chicken, chopped dates, cranberries, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine the ingredients.
Add to the farro salad, 1/2 of the champagne vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add in more vinaigrette as needed for taste. Store any unused dressing in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to serve up the salad, put some fresh greens on a plate or bowl, top the greens with the farro salad and mix it all together. Garnish with the shaved Manchego cheese and chopped almonds.
It’s the perfect spring salad, as it’s served up cold and can be made ahead of time, which is perfect for your next picnic or potluck.